In what is likely the platform-launch of a 2012 presidential bid, Florida Governor Charlie Crist will announce his 2010 senate candidacy today. The governor-turned-president formula has worked well for Republicans in the past, but Gov. Crist probably feels that the Senate offers the national exposure necessary to bill himself as an alternative to President Obama in 2012.
As much as the Republican party rallied behind Gov. Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential race, there was this nagging feeling that she just wasn't quite ready for the big show after her awkward nationally televised interviews. Republicans stood behind her because they felt she was the ideologically Conservative Übermensch even though her press-relation skills did appear to lag at times.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist will almost certainly not recieve the same level of support should he run in 2012. He is socially conservative on the baseline issue of abortion, but his support of Obama's stimulus bill earlier this year will hang as a polical millstone during any Republican challenges in the primaries. And unlike his Alaskan counterpart, he does handle the press with skill.
Crist has been calling for moderation in the Republican Party, while some of the more vocal Republicans denounce such a strategy. In the wake of the Specter flip and the botched McCain cadidacy, it is unclear how excited Republicans will be about supporting another moderate in their ranks.
The thought of Tea Party Republicans finding hope in a man who vocally supported the stimulus bill is untenable, but in a very purple state like Florida, it might be the best the party can find for the Senate. In 2012, Crist's support for the stimulus bill will gray the distinction between President Obama and the governor in a time that the distinction needs to be sharper than ever.