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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

For Crist, a most un-conventional speech



Gov. Charlie Crist gave a speech at the end of Sunday's prayer breakfast at the Presidency IV convention that was anything but the bash-the-Democrats fodder that Republican activists like to hear.


Crist was not listed as a speaker on the breakfast program, and he was the last one to speak. Unlike his predecessor, Jeb Bush, Crist is not comfortable talking about faith in public -- it's one of the few topics he generally avoids.nd how

"You know, I don't talk about religion that much. It's sort of personal," Crist said. "But it's very meaningful to me."  He mentioned Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp's serious heart illness a few years ago that could have been fatal and "we almost lost him" but "God had a mission in mind for him."

Then Crist elicited audible groans from the crowd of more than 2,000 Republican activists when he spoke in glowing terms about his friend, Democratic U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler of Palm Beach County, who accompanied Crist to Israel last May. (The groans came right after Crist said it was important to be "respectful, tolerant and courteous" of others).

"He's a good man," Crist said of Wexler. "Not perfect, but a good man. He's a little vocal sometimes, I know." Crist told the story of putting a note in the Western Wall asking God to protect Florida from hurricanes, and said: "So far, so good," rapping his right fist on the wooden lectern.

"I pray every day, and lately I feel like the prayers have been answered. If we can just get one more on property taxes this week, L.G.," he said, referring to Kottkamp, "it will turn out fine, I'm sure."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:22am]


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