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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

McCain and the 'Three Floridas'



Flying over Florida with John McCain, the Arizona senator described three different political Floridas. He experienced the sweep of the state's diversity with the neck-snapping experience of flying from Pensacola -- which is more like Alabama more than the Sunshine State -- to Miami, a Hispanic-majority city that embodies where the rest of America will be in 30 or 40 years.   

"My sense is that it's three states: northern, central and southern," McCain said, "and I think they're very distinctive politically. But if I had to guess ... it seems to be moving a little bit back toward the center."

McCain spent Friday night and Saturday flying around the state in support of Charlie Crist's bid for governor. Joining McCain on the fly-around was Craig Goldman, executive director of his Straight Talk America political action committee.

McCain downplayed ideological differences between Crist and his more conservative opponent, Tom Gallagher. He said he senses that a lot of the support for Crist was "performance-based. They like the job he did on education, they like the job he did in the Senate, they like the job he did as attorney general. I think a lot of times that has more to do with it than the ideological bent."   

McCain's likely 2008 run for the White House will find lots of support in Florida. In the Navy town of Pensacola, a man wore a "McCain for president 2000" T-shirt to Crist's rally. In Orlando, a man held up a hand-made McCain for president sign.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 3:13pm]


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