What Happens If Crist Leaves The GOP?

First, let's stipulate the source of these rumors: a conservative activist who blogs for the South-Florida Sun-Sentinel. Not the Sun-Sentinel itself.

Crist is flailing at the moment, even with a brief respite based on news that his opponent, Marco Rubio, rang up a couple hundred dollars of personal expenses on his Florida GOP credit card.  The news isn't likely to change the dynamics of the race soon. The primary is months away -- August 24 -- and Crist could bounce back -- providing that he changes the way conservatives look at him and Marco Rubio. The stimulus issue -- which Crist calls Rubio's "one trick pony" -- is settled: Crist supported it and (now, at least) is not apologizing for it.

What's left now is basically a temperament contest: which candidate best fits what the Florida Republican primary electorate expects from their nominee. Being anti-Washington and anti-Obama and anti-compromise is in vogue now, and so is Rubio. Crist hopes that increased attention to Rubio will bring him down a few notches.

If Crist is indeed thinking of bolting his party, it's hard to see how he'd benefit. He'd certainly take his voters with him, but it's hard to see him picking up Democrats, leaving Rep. Kendrick Meek (probably) in the lead in a three-way race.

Crist's team denies that their candidate has any intention of leaving the GOP, and they accuse Rubio of spreading rumors -- like the one about a secret meeting between Crist and Vice President Joe Biden (didn't happen).

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