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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist won't meet the president

5

November

Republican nominee for governor Charlie Crist will not travel to Pensacola on Monday to be with President George W. Bush on the final day of the campaign.

Crist said the decision was forced by a need to be in different areas of the state where his race with Jim davis is much closer than it is in the panhandle.

"We're doing very well in Pensacola," Crist said. "We've got to fight for votes in the other parts of the state."

Davis' campaign accused Crist of being afraid to appear in public with a president whose popularity has sunk dramatically over the war in Iraq.

The Davis campaign also noted that six weeks ago Crist appeared with president Bush at a GOP fundraiser in Orlando that raised $3-million.

"It appears that money can actually buy Charlie's love," a Davis spokesman said.

Crist's Chief of Staff George LeMieux said he made the decision Sunday that for reason of time, not politics, Crist needs to be elsewhere on Monday.

"I made a decision that there are markets where we need to be in, where we have a unique opportunity to do well, like West Palm Beach," LeMieux told reporters at a Pinellas Park flea market.

The 37-year-old lawyer repeatedly stated that he made the decision, and he announced it to reporters while Crist was shaking hands at a rally 100 feet away.

Asked whether the White House put pressure on Crist to be with the President, LeMieux said, "I'll keep those conversations private. My job is to make the best decisions."

Governor Jeb Bush will accompany his brother to Pensacola, and U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris will attend, but three other state-wide Republican candidates have not confirmed their attendance.

— Steve Bousquet

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 12:37pm]

    

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