Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Crist calls Florida a model for future of GOP

TALLAHASSEE — Barely a week after Barack Obama's decisive victory, Republican governors across the country gather in Miami today for two days of exploring how to find their way out of the wilderness.

The host of the Republican Governors' Association event is Florida's Charlie Crist, a big believer in the "big tent" theory who calls his way of governing "a model for the country."

But Crist will have to share the stage with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who was wildly popular with the conservative base of the GOP that remains a little wary of Crist.

"I think there's room for both Charlie Crist and Sarah Palin," said Brian Ballard, a lobbyist and fundraiser for Crist and John McCain. "If we don't embrace both, we're in trouble."

The second-guessing is well under way. In hindsight, Ballard, a member of McCain's national finance team, wonders if McCain might have won two critical states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, if he had picked former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who was discounted because he favors abortion rights.

"I wonder if we might rethink that," Ballard said.

Crist is one of several Republican governors who will address the convention. Others include Rick Perry of Texas, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota.

But it is likely to be Palin who eclipses them all. Since last week's election defeat, the former vice presidential nominee has kept a very high profile with interviews and appearances in which she has said she'll "plow through that door" of a presidential run if it's God's will and conditions are right.

In Miami, Palin will give a speech about the future of the GOP Thursday, and before that she'll take questions from reporters.

It's hard to imagine the future Palin outlines will look like the one Crist would propose. He is a Republican who picked two social conservatives for back-to-back openings on the Florida Supreme Court, and whose opposition to higher taxes has earned him an A from the conservative Cato Institute, one of only three governors with that grade. Once an opponent of offshore oil drilling, he now would support it under certain conditions.

But Crist's priorities include addressing climate change and restoring civil rights of felons, and some Floridians are still waiting for their property tax bills to "drop like a rock," as he promised last year.

He has appointed Democrats to high-level state posts, and he took the advice of a Democratic legislator in extending the hours of early voting before last week's election, a step some viewed as favorable to Obama.

"I know I received some criticism from within my party by extending the hours for early voting," Crist said. "But at the end of the day, you've got to try to do what's right for all the people you serve."

As Republicans analyze last week's results, they need look no further than outside their hotel to see how Floridians split their tickets.

Miami-Dade gave Obama a huge 140,000-vote margin, but also returned three Republicans to Congress. Even as voters embraced diversity by choosing the nation's first black president, they also approved a ban on gay marriage in the Florida Constitution.

Crist says the key to success is for Republicans to be like him: work with Democrats, seek "common sense" solutions and avoid wedge issues that divide Floridians.

"I'm very proud of how our administration has been able to bring people together in a bipartisan fashion — almost a nonpartisan fashion," he said.

Crist's centrist, hopeful style has kept his approval ratings strong even during a prolonged economic slump, but it has at times strained his support among conservatives in his own party.

Crist will reach the midway point of his first term in a few weeks, and is busy planning his wedding in St. Petersburg next month while trying again to figure how to close the latest state budget shortfall of at least $1-billion without raising taxes.

He received 52 percent of the vote in 2006, in part due to the votes of Hispanics and a larger-than-expected share of African-American support.

Exit polls show both groups voted decisively for Obama in Florida.

Asked how the Republicans can win some of them back, Crist said: "You continue to push forward on issues like restoring felons' rights. That you demonstrate in a way that's manifested that all people of the state are important. … Everyone's included, and everyone's invited to the table."

This report includes information from the Associated Press. Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

Crist calls Florida a model for future of GOP 11/11/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 14, 2008 8:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. First WannaCry, now cyberattack Petya spreads from Russia to Britain

    Business

    Computer systems from Russia to Britain were victims of an international cyberattack Tuesday in a hack that bore similarities to a recent one that crippled tens of thousands of machines worldwide.

    A computer screen cyberattack warning notice reportedly holding computer files to ransom, as part of a massive international cyberattack, at an office in Kiev, Ukraine, on Tuesday.  A new and highly virulent outbreak of malicious data-scrambling software appears to be causing mass disruption across Europe.
[Oleg Reshetnyak via AP]
  2. Pinellas sheriff's corporal had racist, sexist, pornographic content on his cell phone

    Public Safety

    LARGO — A Pinellas County sheriff's corporal resigned recently after an investigation into an alleged extramarital affair revealed a trove of racist, sexist and pornographic images on his personal cell phone.

    Shawn Pappas, 46, resigned as a training division corporal from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office after an investigation revealed a trove of offensive images and videos on his phone. This photo was taken as a screenshot from one of the videos released by the Sheriff's Office that Pappas filmed while on duty. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine reflects on the news from the Congressional Budget Office analysis that could imperil GOP leaders' hopes of pushing their health care the plan through the chamber this week, Tuesday, on Capitol Hill in Washington. [AP photo]
  4. Review: Dan Auerbach, Benjamin Booker plumb the past for inspiration on new albums

    Music & Concerts

    It didn't take Benjamin Booker long to get lumped in with the greats. The Tampa-raised singer-songwriter's 2014 self-titled blues-punk debut brought widespread acclaim, not to mention an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, a tour with Jack White and sessions with Mavis Staples.

    The cover of Benjamin Booker's new album "Witness." Credit: ATO Records
  5. Fourth of July in Tampa Bay: parades, hot dog parties, concerts and more things to do

    Events

    Looking for things to do on the Fourth of July in Tampa Bay? There is no shortage of patriotic events, from the Hot Dog Party concerts and eating contest in Tampa, to the parades in Land O' Lakes and Safety Harbor, to the swinging dance party at St. Petersburg's Museum of Fine arts, there's an abundance of things to do …

    The annual Independence Day parade in Brandon kicks off at 10 a.m. on July 4 at 101 E Lumsden Road. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times (2015)]