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News

Charlie Crist tours the middle of the road

Book tour raises more questions than it does answers, confuses Republicans

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CRIST’S PARTY BUS

While a large segment of Florida’s political left bites its tongue and waits for the blood of progressive reason to fill its mouth with something other than sour acquiescence to Charlie Crist’s likely party-hopped gubernatorial ascent – wait for the sweet stuff! – the man himself took his show on the road last week to pretend to answer the concerns of the masses. In addition to promoting his just-released memoir-cum-campaign tome The Party’s Over, our favorite tufted leather handbag did some TV cowering, too, hopping from Joe Scarborough to Stephen Colbert without so much as a gaffe. (OK, there were a few, like that one where he said that he’d totally make out with Jeb Bush.) But it was the statewide bookstore tour that attracted us, or at least a representative of us – super intern Fred Lambert – because we’re still stinging from that time Charlie totally wouldn’t make out with us last fall. Deal-breaker.

When Crist showed up at his scheduled Feb. 11 appearance at the Barnes & Noble on East Colonial Drive, he was trailed by Republican Party of Florida chairman Lenny Curry (Curry had missed his partycrash in southwest Florida the night before because his flight was delayed) and his band of poster-waving teabaggers. They had something to tell Crist. They just couldn’t quite figure it out, considering that Crist was a Republican himself just a few years ago. Flip-flopper doesn’t mean much when the shoe is on the other foot, or something.

“I mean, think about this: This is a guy who’s trying to make the case that he’s got an open mind and therefore he’s willing to evolve on an issue. Hell, I’m willing to evolve on an issue. But when you change your position on every issue, that’s not evolution. That’s political expediency,” Curry chuckled to Lambert.

OK, but what about tag-along grandstanding at book signings? Is that not political expediency?

Anyway, most of the news out of the tour so far is that Crist is exactly as you think he is (moderate) and not necessarily willing to completely denounce his previously held Republican positions on key issues: He went mum when asked about an assault weapons ban; he danced a jig around the charter school and voucher programs killing public education; he thought aloud that casinos might be a good idea. But mostly, according to various reports out of Tallahassee after his Thursday stop there, he seemed to continue to sell the idea of bipartisanship, while laughing off the partisan acrimony that Curry was there to display.

In other words: The party is over. Where’s the party?

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