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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio gains, and Crist goes Christian

21

October

What do you do when your more conservative Republican primary rival for the U.S. Senate is gaining momentum? If you're Gov. Charlie Crist, you start reaching out to a community of voters with whom you've had an on-again, off-again relationship: the Christian right.

Crist will headline the Christian Family Coalition's annual gala on Nov. 13 in Miami. The group opposed Miami Dade's registry of same-sex partners and advocated the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Less than two weeks ago, the governor quietly made an appearance at the Apostolic and Prophetic Conference sponsored by the King Jesus Ministry church, where about 13,000 mostly Hispanic believers packed the American Airlines arena in Miami. Crist's rival, Marco Rubio, also was there.

Crist's appointments of Ricky L. Polston and Charles Canady to the Florida Supreme Court last year were both heavily backed by the religious right. But he campaigned in 2006 as a moderate who didn't crusade against abortion, gay civil unions or embryonic stem cell research.

UPDATE: Anthony Verdugo of the Christian Family Coalition says Rubio was invited to the group's luncheon in June but didn't attend. And he had kind words for Crist: "I think the governor is a people person. He meets people at their level. When it comes to our work in Tallahassee, I think he does look out for Florida's families. He's not only a social conservative, he's a fiscal conservative."

Beth Reinhard, Miami Herald

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 3:23pm]

    

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