Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

GOP's obsession with Crist could make his light shine brighter

Here's the scene:

Charlie Crist is announcing his candidacy for governor on an outdoor stage in front of a couple hundred followers. A plane presumably hired by the opposition is flying above and pulling a banner advertising an anti-Crist website.

And I'm standing nearby thinking about … John Tortorella.

You see, the hockey coach who won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning had this quirk when it came to talking about opponents. He didn't want to do it. Usually, he would flat-out refuse to answer questions about another team.

He wanted to get across the idea that if his guys were doing their job, it didn't matter who was on the other side of the ice.

Which brings me to the Republican Party of Florida.

Turns out, these guys are obsessed with their opponent. They started tweeting about Crist months before he acknowledged he was running as a Democrat. They launched a website to attack him, and couldn't wait to draw attention to it with Monday morning's flyover. And by day's end, there was a line of GOP honchos waiting to trash Crist as a political opportunist.

All of which makes me think they are profoundly worried.

Worried about the popularity of the opponent, and worried about the unpopularity of the incumbent.

Now you might say attack politics are fairly routine in a major election. And you might point out Crist threw plenty of insults of his own in Gov. Rick Scott's direction during his 25-minute speech on Monday.

The difference is the guy already residing in the governor's mansion shouldn't have to engage in a full-out assault. If you do your job well, as Tortorella used to suggest, why even acknowledge there is someone else in the race?

In this case, Scott has the economy on his side. He has home sales on his side. He has unemployment numbers and a budget surplus on his side.

The problem is he doesn't have residents on his side.

Month after month, year after year, polls have shown Scott is not well-liked by voters. And that is a weakness Crist was born to exploit.

Crist loves voters. He bonds with voters. He collects voters wherever he goes, as if he might need them for a rainy day.

And if you didn't know that already, you could see it during his campaign kickoff on Monday. He talked about some policy specifics (mass transit, renewable energy, affordable universities, space coast jobs) and some previous accomplishments.

Mostly, he tried to get the point across that he was devoted to people and Scott was devoted to politics.

It's almost comical when you consider Crist is the consummate politician and Scott spent most of his life as a businessman, but the narrative just might work.

Crist is already pre-empting flip-flop attacks by touting his willingness to adapt, evolve and compromise for the greater good. And compared to Scott's rigid tea party ideology, that strategy might appeal to independents who could decide the election.

Still, there's a long way to go. And at some point, Scott will start hammering Crist about the number of jobs and houses lost during his time in Tallahassee. And Scott will keep taking credit for what has been an economic recovery throughout the nation.

In the end, Scott's politics just might win.

But only if they beat Crist's charisma.

GOP's obsession with Crist could make his light shine brighter 11/04/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 8:47am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

    Blogs

    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  2. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  3. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title

    Blogs

    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  4. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  5. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)

    Airlines

    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]