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GOP references remain in Crist's campaign website, contrary to allegations

The statement

Gov. Charlie Crist's campaign "website has eliminated all references to our Republican Party."

State Rep. Tom Grady, R-Naples, Tuesday in an e-mail to Crist.

The ruling

Grady, who said Crist persuaded him to run for the Legislature, said Tuesday in an e-mail that he was resigning from Crist's statewide finance team and would no longer be the Southwest Florida regional chairman of Crist's campaign.

"This evening, as I reviewed your updated campaign website, I noticed a disheartening fact," Grady wrote. "Your website has eliminated all references to our Republican Party, or as you frequently refer to it, the party of Lincoln. As a longtime personal friend, I suspected you were considering a break from the party when my recent calls went unanswered."

Crist has been weighing whether to continue running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican, or as an independent candidate. He has until April 30 to decide.

So, is his campaign website already tipping his hand?

Indeed, the website, CharlieCrist.com, is largely devoid of mentions that Crist is a Republican. That's not unusual. Candidates often don't emphasize their party in hopes of attracting more broad support. But it's not hard to figure out his party affiliation — at least for now.

His home page has a link to the "Charlie Crist Conservative Record," and his official biography describes his as a "common-sense conservative" who was "Florida's first elected Republican Attorney General."

And it still includes a press release from April 8, in which campaign manager Eric Eikenberg says Crist would run for the U.S. Senate as a Republican, not an independent.

The Palm Beach Post also found press releases referring to Crist speaking at Republican events and also commenting on the resignation of his hand-picked Republican Party of Florida chairman, Jim Greer.

Crist campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul told the Post "no Republican references have been scrubbed from our website, period."

The St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald also asked Crist about Grady's comments, and he flatly denied removing GOP references from his website.

Q: What's your reaction to Grady's repealed endorsement?

A: "So be it."

Post reporter Michael Bender said he has been following changes to CharlieCrist.com "for the past couple years," and no reference to "Republican" has been eliminated from the site. Also Grady told the Post said he has no proof Crist "eliminated" anything from his website.

So, there are Republican references in Crist's biography, detailed in press releases and on issue statements. Plus, if you were going to remove mention of the GOP, you would likely delete the press release promising not to run as anything other than a Republican. There's no evidence the website has changed. We rate Grady's statement False.

This ruling has been edited for print. For the full version — and to read other rulings — go to PolitiFact.com/Florida.

GOP references remain in Crist's campaign website, contrary to allegations 04/21/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 9:03pm]
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