Trib editorial board: Charlie Crist has "embarrassed himself"

No, this is not the latest email salvo from the Marco Rubio camp (though if you're on the list, you might think so).

Today the Tampa Tribune blasts our governor in their lead editorial, titled "Crist has lost his invincible touch."

The op-ed chronicles his recent comedy of errors, in which the man famously known for never letting them see him sweat (because he always has a fan blowing on his face in public appearances) has acted completely unnerved in recent weeks, even though he still holds a solid 15-point lead over his GOP Senate challenger in the most recent Quinnipiac Poll.

As the Trib writes, a lot of Crist's problems come from his inability to man up on supporting Barack Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan, which has been derided not just in conservative circles, but more and more in some parts of the mainstream press as ill-advised.

Crist seems to have grown weary of trying to defend his indefensible statement on CNN a week ago that he did not endorse the stimulus, telling the Palm Beach Post yesterday that:

"I support it. I think it was important to take it. All of my fellow governors did so....

"We would have had to let go 20,000 school teachers if we didn't have that. My belief always has been that Florida deserves her fair share. And it's helping our economy. Without those additional funds we would have a much more difficult time maintaining not only our economy but job growth and job retention."

Asked if he would have voted for the stimulus bill if he were a senator, Crist replied: "I would have voted for a different form. But I think it's pretty clear I supported the concept."

Obviously in a fight with the conservative wing of the Florida GOP, which despises the fact that Crist appeared with Obama in Fort Myers in February, Crist has been playing politics of the worst kind: the kind that shows that you're acting political.  The stimulus has best worked in this withering economy as a social safety net for a host of services, and that certainly includes education.  Obviously the support of the stimulus will not be as huge a factor if Crist can survive his primary and face (probably) Kendrick Meek next November.    It's obvious that he's not confident he can do that, thus the pandering on the issue.

Meanwhile, political reporters from across the state today are reporting  on Crist's good buddy, GOP State Chair Jim Greer, and the conference call he held yesterday to try to stem off calls for his head. The story in the St. Pete Times/Miami Herald includes this money quote on why issues with Greer matter:

"I think it's already having an impact on Bill McCollum and the governor's race, because it's becoming impossible to raise money with all these things hanging over your head,'' National Committeewoman Sharon Day said of the assorted controversies under Greer's leadership. "He's traveling to every fundraiser with the governor and traveling all over the country. … He should be here at the helm of the party getting our candidates elected."

In our current story on Paula Dockery (to be put up on this site later today), the Lakeland State Senator told CL that part of her impetus in running was essentially as a retort to Greer, who tried to clear the field in the primaries for both Crist and Attorney General Bill McCollum, to an extremely negative reaction by the GOP base.

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