To hug or not to hug? CNN investigates
CNN spent more than three minutes dissecting the handshake between Obama-Crist today in Tampa and contrasting it with the famous man-hug between the two men last February in Fort Myers. Crist's critics, chiefly Marco Rubio, have effectively used that image, above right, to link the governor with Obama's economic stimulus.
"Yeah, that's a hug -- a hugette, at least," Democratic pundit Paul Begala said. Observed Wolf Blitzer, "Today it was more of just a strictly a handshake." Blitzer then asked pundit Andy Card how much it hurt Crist, noting Rubio's "tough conservative challenge" in the U.S. Senate primary.
"I may be old school but I think you always show respect to the president, the office of the president. So I think it's right for the governor to greet the president when he comes into the state no matter what their party or philosophical differences might be. I think it's a matter of respect," said Card, former chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
Begala agreed, as did Jeb Bush in a video clip, though Bush said he would not have "embraced" the stimulus and "campaign for it."
Begala looked at a blown up picture of today's handshake and offered Zapruder-like insight: "You see, we've got the second hand coming here, the left hand coming around," he said. "But I can't see -- I don't think Gov. Crist -- he's not doubling up. Right, the president is doubling up in there."
"Not a little man hug," Blizter said.
"No man hugs," Begal said. But making a serious point about the power of symbolism, he noted how other awkward photos have hurt politicians including this one: