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"I'm running as a Republican. I'm very proud to be from the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, others that really have stood up for our party, like Ronald Reagan. This is a great party. It has a great future. We have a great opportunity to win in November. It's important that we put a candidate up that can win in November."
(Q: So are you ruling out that you will file as an Independent by the April 30th deadline?)
"That's right. That's right. I'm running as a Republican."
- Gov. Charlie Crist, March 28, 2010
Says he has decided to run for the U.S. Senate as "a candidate without party affiliation."
- Gov. Charlie Crist, April 29, 2010
Gov. Charlie Crist's announcement on April 29, 2010 that he'll bolt the Republican Party and run for the U.S. Senate as an independent would have been an unimaginable proposition just a few months ago.
After all, Crist was considered a 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate and a potential rising star. Ten months ago, Crist led former House Speaker Marco Rubio by more than 30 percentage points in Senate primary polls.
And just one month ago, Crist categorically dismissed the possibility he'd run for the Senate as anything other than a Republican.
In a March 28 televised debate on Fox News Sunday, he told moderator Chris Wallace he would run as a Republican in the primary. Here's the exchange:
WALLACE: There have been persistent rumors in Florida that you are so far behind, at least currently, in the polls — double digits to Mr. Rubio — that you may run instead as an independent. Here is your chance to dispel all the rumors. Are you willing to pledge right here, right now that you will run in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate and not run as an independent?
CRIST: I'm running as a Republican. I'm very proud to be from the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, others that really have stood up for our party, like Ronald Reagan. This is a great party. It has a great future. We have a great opportunity to win in November. It's important that we put a candidate up that can win in November.
WALLACE: So are you ruling out that you will file as an Independent by the April 30th deadline?
CRIST: That's right. That's right. I'm running as a Republican.
Crist campaign manager Eric Eikenberg also tried to stop the run-as-an-independent talk in a April 8 press release.
"To put these rumors to rest once and for all, as we have said countless times before, Governor Crist is running for the United States Senate as a Republican," Eikenberg said. "He will not run as an Independent or as a No Party Affiliation.
"This should completely and utterly put to rest any of the unfounded rumors coming from the Rubio campaign that Governor Crist would run as anything other than the Republican that he is."
Well, maybe they weren't so unfounded.
On April 19, 2010, Crist told newspaper reporters that he was considering running as an independent. Then at a April 29 rally in his hometown of St. Petersburg, he made it official.
He said he was seeking the Senate seat as "a candidate without party affiliation."
At a rally in St. Petersburg, Crist said, "I believe in democracy and that people have the right to choose -- always. Now I could have chosen to stay in the primary. But frankly for me, it's your decision. It's not one club's decision or another -- or even a club within that club. It is a decision too important -- it is a decision for all the people in Florida to be able to make. So that's why we go straight to November. We give you the chance to make that decision."
We previously have tracked Crist's waffling on running as a Republican or an independent, and rated his differing comments as a Half Flip on our Flip-O-Meter. His decision to run as a no party candidate turns the flip into a Full Flop.
FOX News Sunday, Crist/Rubio debate transcript, March 28, 2010, accessed via Nexis
St. Petersburg Times, "Crist on possibility of no-party bid: 'Things change'," April 20, 2010
St. Petersburg Times, "Crist on indy bid: No rush on decision, 'I take my cues from people in Florida'," April 19, 2010
St. Petersburg Times, "NRSC: 'Zero chance' Charlie Crist stays in GOP primary," April 19, 2010
Charlie Crist campaign, statement by campaign manager Eric Eikenberg, April 8, 2010
Wall Street Journal, "Crist Advisers See Path to Senate Outside GOP," April 14, 2010
St. Petersburg Times, "As Marco Rubio makes gains in U.S. Senate race, Gov. Charlie Crist shifts tactics," April 8, 2010
St. Petersburg Times, "Poll gives Marco Rubio 23-point lead on Charlie Crist; Crist even as indie," April 15, 2010
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "Crist's Future: Time For Plan B, Or Maybe Place C, Or ...," Jan. 3, 2010, accessed via Nexis
St. Petersburg Times, "To fight, Crist holds punches," Feb. 3, 2010, accessed via Nexis
St. Petersburg Times, "Crist finds urgency in his final months," Feb. 27, 2010, accessed via Nexis
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