Crist: I'm following Lincoln's advice or something

Question: Is there a single pundit anywhere on the conservative spectrum who still supports this tool? All the center-righties I’ve read are emphatically opposed, from Frum to John Avlon to Ross Douthat, who makes this trenchant point about electing careerists when there’s an entitlements tidal wave racing towards shore:

No doubt there will be some talk, in the wake of Charlie Crist’s completely unsurprising decision to run for Florida’s Senate seat as an independent, about how this shows that the intolerant Tea Party spirit is driving moderates out of the Republican Party. As I’ve argued before, this is exactly the wrong way to look at the case of Charlie Crist. The Florida governor may be a moderate in some sense, but his real loyalties are to cynicism, self-interest (though this time, I’m pretty sure that he’s misjudged where those interests lie), and the persistent pursuit of the budgetary free lunch. At a time when the country desperately needs politicians who are equipped to make tough choices, Crist’s record suggests that he’s the last person that anyone — conservative or liberal — should want to see in a position of responsibility in Washington D.C.

Quite so. In fact, look no further than that Fox News Sunday debate held a few weeks ago for proof. When pressed on social security reform, Rubio insisted that raising the retirement age has to be on the table — a ballsy stance given Florida’s demographics, needless to say. Care to guess where Sunshine Charlie came down on the same issue?

Today’s meme du jour is that Crist, by splitting the Republican vote, could propel Meek to victory, but have a look at this fascinating new poll. Yeah, Crist leads, but don’t focus on that. Focus on this:

The poll shows Crist taking more votes from Meek than Rubio. Crist actually does better with Democrats than Meek, with 41 percent of them saying they would vote for him compared to 31 percent for Meek.

Crist pulls in 22 percent of Republicans, compared to 56 percent for Rubio.

While Crist projects himself as a conservative/moderate, he gets more support from people who consider themselves liberals than Meek – 43 percent to 33 percent.

Crist pulls in 36 percent support from blacks, compared to 45 percent for Meek.

Remember, according to yesterday’s projections, Crist would need roughly 30 percent of the vote from both Democrats and Republicans in order to stand a chance in November. As it is, he’s already well under the mark among GOPers and is bound to collapse among Dems (especially black voters) as Meek’s name recognition spreads. Not only that but, surprisingly for an incumbent governor, he didn’t have much of an organization in place before yesterday’s big switch; now that people are bailing out, including cronies who owe their careers to him, it’s bound to be even more bare-bones. Oh, and thanks to the vagaries of Florida’s election laws, his name’s set to appear no higher than ninth on the ballot in the fall. Says pollster Jim McLaughlin, “I would make a pretty good bet he not only will not win, he will run an embarrassing third.” Indeed.

Here he is this morning on “Today” name-checking Lincoln and and describing his sudden intellectual awakening to the fact that primaries necessarily limit voters’ options in November. One mild surprise: Meredith Vieira practically begs him to follow Specter’s lead by saying that he didn’t leave the party, the darned wingnuttified party left him, but Crist doesn’t take the bait. No matter how much Republicans hate him, he still needs that 30 percent of GOPers, so don’t expect many attacks from him on the party at large. Fun to watch, though.

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Update: Actually, this video’s even more fun. Five different interviewers are playing a tune here. Dance, Charlie, dance!

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