The first reviews are in on Charlie Crist's performance as a high-profile stump speaker on the Republican circuit. It ain't pretty, and it's why the Veep-O-Meter swings backward this week.
The speech by John McCain's potential running mate to Orange County, Calif., Republicans last weekend really helped his party. "By showing unequivocally he would be a complete disaster for the GOP — the worst running mate since Dan Quayle," Orange County Register columnist Frank Mickadeit wrote in a column headlined "We know who McCain shouldn't pick."
"Mr. Crist looks great: … silver hair, warm smile, great tan, perfectly tailored suit of clothes, decent teeth. It's when he uses his facial musculature to try and form cogent sound that he falls apart."
The columnist said that in just nine minutes, Crist wrongly declared that Ronald Reagan hailed from Orange County and drew audible groans when he saluted Arnold Schwarzenegger — a moderate hardly loved in that bastion of conservatism.
"I would say he was stunned and distracted for minutes, as he absorbed the lack of popularity in this room for the governor," one Republican activist, Jon Fleischman, wrote on a California political Web site.
Crist's support for McCain's new proposal to allow drilling off Florida, may endear him to McCain, but it's not helping Crist's national image. The political Web site the Hotline even suggested it may have sunk Crist's veep prospects if Florida voters recoil: If "taking one for the team" compromises your home-state standing, doesn't that make you less helpful to the party?
Is the Rays waterfront baseball stadium proposal already dead in the water?
"I don't think it's dead, but I think it's pretty close to life support,'' St. Petersburg City Council member Herb Polson said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
"I think it's on life support. There has never been a strong community political ally for the Rays to join with to make this venture work, and their location created an immediate negative reaction to it,'' said County Commissioner Bob Stewart, who suggested the best hope for a new stadium would be a new site in mid Pinellas.
Being in Congress doesn't mean you're rich
Sorry all you cynics, but it seems congressional seniority does not necessarily breed wealth. After 19 terms, Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, is worth between $16,000 and $65,000, according to new federal filings compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Others from Tampa Bay: Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Spring Hill, $554,000 to $2.7-million; Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, $601,000 to $1.8-million; Gus Bilirakis, $136,000 to $757,000; Adam Putnam, R-Bartow, $2.7-million to $12.9-million.
It's all still chump change compared with Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, whose business interests include auto dealerships. His net worth is set as high as $408-million, though perhaps as low as minus $24.5-million, (yes, $24.5-million in the hole), based on the broad range of values reported for his assets and liabilities.
Crist wedding bells?
A Q&A in today's New York Times magazine asks our governor about his longtime bachelor status.
"You can't find one woman in all of Florida?" Deborah Solomon asks.
"Maybe I have. Stay tuned," says Crist, who is dating Carole Rome of Miami.
Off the talking points
Two things the McCain campaign does not want to hear in a conference call with prominent supporters and reporters: one mayor waxing on about his trip to Cuba and jaunt along the beach with Fidel Castro — yikes — and another's disapproval of oil drilling.
"I'm not committed to saying I'm for lifting the moratorium at this point," St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker said in conference call arranged as Barack Obama prepared to address the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Miami. "We have to protect our beaches; obviously that's the No. 1 thing we have to do."
As a reporter started to ask a followup question, former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco (once a leader of Democratic Mayors for Nixon) piped in, saying no one would jeopardize Florida's beaches.
To illustrate his support, he recalled a 2002 visit to Cuba. "Something I always wanted to do and some people thought it was the wrong thing to do."
Yeah, people like McCain.
Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz.