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National Review: Is a comeback in store for Charlie Crist

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Last spring, Charlie Crist seemed to have it all: popularity, a sharp tan, and a surefire ticket to Washington as Florida’s next U.S. senator. Now the Republican governor is struggling mightily to catch up with conservative Marco Rubio, a former speaker of the state house, in the Sunshine State’s GOP Senate primary. With six months until the vote, Crist spoke with National Review Online about his flagging campaign, Rubio’s rise, President Obama, and the future of Republican politics.

Crist says that Rubio, instead of “running on his record,” is “riding a wave of understandable anger, concern, and despair” — acting as nothing more than a “vessel for that anger.”

Former governor Jeb Bush, who has remained neutral in the race, expressed growing weariness with Crist’s stimulus defense earlier this week, calling the decision “unforgivable.” Crist replies: “I don’t know why [Bush] said that but everybody has a right to their opinion.” Crist notes that he wants to “reach out” to Bush for a “very good conversation” on the subject.

Crist then goes on to describe Rubio as a “one-trick pony.”

Crist says he watched Rubio’s CPAC speech — and was impressed with Rubio’s presentation, but not his message. “I think his rhetoric is very good,” Crist says, “and clearly effective, but the problem is that it is easier for him to talk the talk than to walk the walk. My opponent is an eloquent speaker and says a lot of good things that really hit at people’s heartstrings, but we have a guy in the White House right now who did the same thing. I’d hate to see a reignition of that as it relates to the Republican party. We need truthful, honest people who not only say things people want to hear, but do the things the people need.”

Crist sees Scott Brown’s win in January’s special Senate election in Massachusetts as a good sign for Republicans like him. “I look at Scott Brown, and the kinds of things he’s doing, as a pragmatic and practical approach I admire.” Not ceding the NR ground to Rubio, either, Crist goes on to say that Brown’s approach to politics is “something that William Buckley would be proud of.”

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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