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What's Crist to do (besides dropping out and endorsing Kendrick Meek)?

If I had a dollar for every question I've gotten about the Crist campaign, just in the last 96 hours, I wouldn't be driving a seven year old car with 130,000 miles.   I can only imagine how many calls my GOP friends are getting. 

The most recent frenzy is driven by three recent polls that show Rubio ahead anywhere from a few to a dozen points, once again turning both Tallahassee and Washington on its head.   I even spent a good solid hour today beating down the rumor from my friends in the nation's Capitol that Crist was about to join the Democratic Party.  Apparently, false speculation that Vice President Joe Biden and Governor Crist had dinner last week fueled that rumor. 

Adam Smith and Beth Reinhard today wrote a solid article about Crist's current fortunes.  It is a must read and in it, the Governor talks about what he plans to do about it:  focus on governing.  Quite honestly, that isn't enough.  I'd take it one step further. 

So here it is Governor, my advice.  Just two things: 

1.  Suspend your campaign. 

Crist's own numbers show he has more than $6 million on hand, more than enough to run a strong primary.  What Crist needs to do now is change people's perception, and he can only do that by being a strong leader.  People like Crist personally, but he's never ditched the view that he's just another ambitious pol. In these economic times, that perception is certainly dogging him. So, Governor, be bold and call a press confernce to announce you are stepping off the campaign trail until the session is over and get to work running the state.  

Now, surely some will compare it to McCain's ill-fated decision to 'suspend' his campaign in 2008, but the circumstances are totally different.  First, McCain wasn't running the country and secondly, when he stepped off the trail to help save the economy, he did nothing to show he was a leader.

Go be the Governor now and make yourself not just relevant, but the leader of this state during its most trying times.   America is looking for leaders, not politicians.  You have a rare chance to redefine yourself as one of the former.

2. Be yourself.

Why did people flock to Barack Obama?  He was different and authentic.  These characteristics also drove Scott Brown to victory in Massachusetts. 

Right now, Governor Crist is never going to out right Rubio, and he should stop trying.  He is who he is, and he should embrace it.  His best shot, quite honestly, is the right becoming concerned that Rubio simply is too far to the right to win.  So stop trying to be the "real conservative," it clearly isn't playing and its not going to work.   So Governor, go be yourself.  It has served you well throughout your career, so why not just embrace your brand?

The Hard Truth

As Smith and Reinhard said, the problem for Crist is he doesn't have a lot of good options.  The economy is largely out of his control, and that is impacting him more than any ideological issue. Moreover, the simple fact that Rubio leads Crist by 50 points in one poll among voters who have an opinion about both is very bad news.   But in that poll, 60% of Republicans still approve of his job as Governor, another reason for him to focus solely on governing.

Frankly, he could do these things and still lose.  But on the flip side, he is losing, so why not mix it up?

And for all you disaffected Crist GOP voters who believe that Rubio is to far to the right for your liking, I have a suggestion for you:  get to know my friend Kendrick Meek

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Reader Comments (4)


Here's my advice:

Now that he's behind in the polls, here are ten ways @charliecristfl can turn his campaign around.

February 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSchorsch

i fear if he were to follow your advice, good for the state in the short term, he'd draw more independent voters from meek.

February 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjoan mckniff

The thing is...tactically, strategically...why is 100% of the attention and noisemaking on the GOP side?

If a major part of Crist's challenge--and Rubio's rise--is about the crafting and effective trading on a recognizable brand, why is Meek doing neither, Haiti notwithstanding? What's he waiting for?

For contrast, consider the obvious: one can hardly avoid the nascent and very effectively reiterated 'branding' of Meek's rookie colleague from the 8th district.

Grayson's everywhere at once: on the cable shows, on YouTube, on multiple issue-oriented internet websites, on the floor of the House making blustery speeches and introducing legislation. In my local paper at least (Orlando Sentinel), he's plainly a major hit-magnet for the site, and though he's slagged at every turn, the ubiquity of his mavericky brand is reinforced. And lest it be forgotten THE GUY. IS. A. FRESHMAN. A freshman that the opposition demonizes and despises and yet even so no one of any gravitas wants to go up against him in November. Weirdly, he is running effectively unopposed, 10 months from election day.

Would be interesting to see data on Grayson's name recognition statewide versus Meek's. It's a very safe bet that the former dwarfs the latter. And all things considered--strong negatives, rather awkward demeanor, moderate-voter skeevishness--I suspect there's a case to be made that pitting a "fire"-brand like Grayson's against a Marco Rubio would give a dynamic, nimble campaign a range of options to work with that don't exist when the problem is instead 'marketing' an unknown quantity.

And the same applies, seems to me, to Alex Sink.

People will 'get', on a gut level, that there's no fire in these Coakleyish bellies. And it's vanishingly difficult to see how or why they would (or should) reward such an odor of fecklessness, in a time of deep suffering and crisis.

February 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoorworker

Who cares about Crist or Mafio? Those two are such obvious nutcases, the media just runs stories about them to take up space where Weekly World News left off. (Headline: "Alien baby found in cornfield!")

Kendrick Meek is where it's at. Anyone who hasn't caught onto that is going to be tanking in the ratings come re-run season.

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTheDieHard

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