Obama Allies Boosting Crist in Florida

Tuesday, 20 Jul 2010 01:10 PM

By Jim Meyers

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Democratic allies of President Barack Obama are coming to the aid of independent Senate candidate Charlie Crist even though he will square off against a Democratic opponent in November’s general election.

The Florida governor has recently brought several Democratic operatives into his campaign, including a pollster and consultant, The Wall Street Journal is reporting today.

Also, Alfredo Balsera, a member of Obama’s national finance committee in 2008 and a leading presidential adviser on Latino outreach, is now advising Crist and is planning to host a fundraiser next month that will bring together mostly Obama supporters.

Crist “has successfully courted top Democrats — including some with close ties to President Barack Obama and the White House — to work on his campaign, even though two Democrats are making serious bids for the Senate seat,” The Journal disclosed.

In late April, Crist trailed former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, a conservative tea party favorite, by 30 percentage points in the race for the Republican nomination, a lead so insurmountable that Crist left the GOP to run as an independent.

Now he is seen as the front-runner, leading both Rubio and the likely Democratic candidate, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, in the polls. A Quinnipiac University poll in June showed Crist with the support of 51 percent of independents, 28 percent of Republicans, and 37 percent of Democrats.

Crist defended his credentials as a Ronald Reagan conservative in an interview with Newsmax as recently as February. But he has moved to the center since abandoning the GOP to run as an independent.

He vetoed two Republican-backed bills, one dealing with abortion and the other with teacher tenure, winning praise from many teachers and liberal women’s groups. Although he insists he is “pro life,” he told The Journal that he would not seek to overturn Roe v. Wade.

In March, he vowed he would fight to repeal the Democrats’ healthcare reform plan. But last week, he said the plan should only be “modified.”

Last year he opposed the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, but he now says he “probably” took that position under pressure from the GOP primary. Asked by The Journal if he feels differently now, he said: “Perhaps.”

Crist has not promised to caucus with the Democrats if he wins the Senate seat. But he has met twice in recent weeks with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for discussions, The Journal noted, “that signal that he may be moving in that direction.”


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