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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

On the trail with Crist: bikinis, beer, boxing and boos



One more thought from Charlie Crist's campaign swing through Jacksonville on Saturday: the Guns N' Hoses boxing match is not a typical campaign stop.

The charity event -- featuring knock-down fights between local cops and firefighters -- provided an appropriate comparison for the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, where Crist faces a surging Marco Rubio. But it's not exactly the best photo op.

U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, a Republican candidate for state Agriculture Commissioner, looked a little out of place wearing a suit and unbuttoned dress shirt, and Crist didn't fit the part in his light-wash Levis with fish belt and loaders, either.

Putnam and Crist -- who attended and watched separately -- looked wide-eyed with initial shock at the scene: a packed Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Hooters waitresses in the VIP area ($1,000 a table), beer galore and well-sculpted women wearing pageant sashes that covered more than their bikinis.

It's no wonder the loaded crowd booed Crist when he was first introduced -- they would have disliked any politician. But the governor did get more cheers when the ringmaster celebrated his veto of Senate Bill 6. (The Fraternal Order of Police, which helped organize the event, has endorsed him.)

Not surprisingly, neither candidate wanted to comment on the scene. But their faces said enough.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:29am]


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