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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Walking Through Tampa, Following the Script



In this final weekend before Election Day, Charlie Crist is tightly "on message." His handlers are minimizing any chance of unscripted surprises. Crist waves off criticism from Jim Davis as 'bunk" or "ridiculous," media access to the candidate is greatly diminished, and Crist turns every media encounter into a chance to repeat a committed-to-memory sound bite ("It's simple. If you want higher taxes, vote for Jim. If you want lower taxes, vote for Charlie.")

The moment captured in this photo by Times photographer Scott Keeler was typical -- almost. On Barcelona Avenue in South Tampa, in a beautiful, leafy neighborhood with well-preserved homes, Crist came across Cathy Aubin, a second-grade elementary school teacher who said she had already voted for Crist, and who (surprise!) would be happy to "let" Crist put a sign on her lawn.

"Thank you for teaching," Crist told Aubin. "I want to give you a raise." Unscripted moment: Aubin told Crist that she was a big supporter of a half-penny sales tax increase to pay for public school improvements in Hillsborough. The voter, advocating higher taxes, was way off message -- and Crist soon was on his way to the next house.    

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:37am]


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