Earlier this year, Governor Charlie Crist's decision to leave the GOP and brand himself an independent was deemed a "hail mary" decision. Not only would the Senate candidate have to fend off rising Tea Party star Marco Rubio, he would also face competition from Democrat Kendrick Meek. In order to win, the man without a party had to walk the line between appealing to independents, catering to moderate Democrats, and tempting establishment Republicans to break his way. While Crist once led in the polls this summer, Marco Rubio has established a "comfortable" lead in the final few weeks before election day. Some have hinted that Meek could help Crist by dropping out of the race (Meek says he won't). Pundits agree that Crist needs a game-changer in order to become Florida's next senator.
- He Already Failed to Find a 'Game-Changer' figures The Daily Beast's Jim DeFede. "Throughout the debate, Crist seemed to make little headway against Rubio, who remained confident in both his answers and demeanor. That’s not to say that Crist didn’t try. He repeatedly attacked Rubio as being too dangerous for Floridians to trust." But instead of coming off as a well-executed attack, his wild attacks managed to confuse viewers and "even reporters watching the debate in the media center were left scratching their head."
- Rubio 'Hasn't Lost His Cool' The fourth of six debates "came to end without any major gaffes that might disrupt a race becoming increasingly predictable," reports Beth Reinhard and Adam C. Smith at The Miami Herald. "Polls have shown Rubio with a comfortable lead for weeks, followed by Crist. Meek is in third place. Rubio is flush with cash for the crucial homestretch of the campaign, having reported $5.5 million in the bank as of the end of September."
- Crist Is Now a 'Long Shot' observes Peter A. Brown (an assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute) in The Wall Street Journal. "Of all the independent candidates, Mr. Crist in Florida might have seemed the strongest....But the reason why he could not win the GOP nomination in a primary is the same reason why challenger Marco Rubio leads him in the general election: Once Mr. Crist left the Republican Party, Republican voters left him because they saw him as insufficiently conservative. Mr. Crist’s hopes of winning enough Democratic votes to triumph seems, at this point, to be a long shot."
- The Only Way He Can Beat Rubio is if he peels "away more of Meek's Democratic and moderate supporters," ventures Andy Kroll at Mother Jones. "There have even been rumblings of Meek dropping out of the race to boost Crist's chances. Meek, however, has consistently dismissed the rumors, and this late in the game, the odds are slim he'll abandon his candidacy."
- Either Crist or Meek Needs to 'Throw in the Towel' contends Greta Van Susteren on her blog, GretaWire. "If you add Crist's number and Meek's number together the combined number beats Republican Rubio. So you would think the White House is sweating bullets over this Senate seat...and would love to convince Crist or Meek to jump out and endorse the other. With both Crist and Meek in the race, it goes to the Republican Rubio. If one jumps out...the seat could go to the Democrats."
- Crist Can't Decide Which Face to Put Forward--Literally Politico's David Catanese notes that Crist is "changing the faces seen in an attack ad against Republican Marco Rubio to fit the demographics of the region he’s speaking to." Naturally, some Florida Republicans had a field day with the news: "He’ll have anybody say anything for him. It’s just par for the course," said GOP consultant David Johnson.