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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist: 'Keep swinging' the blues away



Floridians are losing their homes and watching retirement funds vanish. Gov. Charlie Crist's advice: Keep swinging.

"It's just like I say about the Tampa Bay Rays. ... That's an important message to our Floridians. Stay in the game, stay at the plate, keep swinging, keep working hard, do the fundamentals. We’re going to get through this. I know it's challenging. But a great president once said, 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself.' Those words are very important for us to remember today. Don't be fearful. Be confident. Be smart. But be confident. We're Floridians. We’ll be fine. We’ve just got to be smart."

Taking reporters' questions this morning, Crist sounded somewhat less bullish about the McCain campaign, which faces a do-or-die situation in Florida and has yielded ground to Democrat Barack Obama in polls.

"I'll be involved, but my first duty is to the people of Florida and to be their governor," he said. "I take that role very very seriously. So when I have time to be able to help, I’ll try to do that. But I know where my first loyalty is, and it’s to the 20-million people who live in this state that I love."

Crist, among those passed over for VP in favor of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, ducked questions about the sharp attacks she leveled on Obama during a two-day trip to Florida.

"Everybody runs their campaign the way they think is best to run it," he said when questioned about Palin's reference to Obama "palling around" with terrorists. "What I am proud of is the job she did in Florida as it related to getting out the message, firing up the base."

A few moments later, he said: "I think negative is in the eye of the beholder. There is always a back and forth, especially toward the ends of these campaigns. I don’t know if it’s fun for anybody."

While Palin is undeniably exciting the base, there is far less evidence that she is bringing in moderates and undecided voters. Asked if things would be different if he were running as McCain's No. 2, Crist said:

"I have no idea. I have no idea. I think what's important is people vote for the top of the ticket. I think he’s going to win Florida. So I think the question will become moot pretty fast."


[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 8:54am]


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