Asked this morning about whether he plans to drop out of the Republican primary for the Senate and run instead as an independent — the deadline to do so is Friday — Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said, "Don't know yet."
It's the number one question on everyone's mind, both nationally but especially in the Sunshine State, including that of St. Petersburg Times blogger Marc Caputo, who reported the above quote.
And yesterday, wrote the Times' Adam Smith, Crist was asked if he would "return Republican donor money since you received that money as a Republican?" Crist would only say, "I think that's a decision that you have to make if you made a decision to go independent. I haven't made that decision yet."
Meanwhile, Marco Rubio, the once longshot who is now the clear favorite to win the Aug. 24 primary, plans to sign his qualifying papers today. In a fundraising letter to supporters, the campaign reiterated its main theme:
We need leaders like Marco Rubio in the Senate. Leaders who will stand firmly and proudly on PRINCIPLE and courage of conviction to fight the misguided thinking that has taken over Washington and allowed government to creep into our lives.
We don’t need more politicians who are willing to bend with the political winds when the going gets tough. Or worse, abandon the party of limited government all together.
Of course, that's not much different than what Dick Cheney said last week when he endorsed Rubio: "Lately it seems Charlie Crist cannot be trusted even to remain a Republican. I strongly urge him to either stay in the Republican primary or drop out of the race."
Crist supporters who have urged him to run as an independent had been touting a Quinnipiac Poll released April 16 that had him narrowly ahead in a three-way race. But a Rasmussen Reports poll released last week had Rubio leading with 37 percent, Crist with 30, and the likely Democratic nominee, Rep. Kendrick Meek, with 22.
By the way, I've written and spoken in the past about the parallels between Crist — and his infamous embrace of President Obama last year — and Sen. Joe Lieberman, who found himself on the outs with his fellow Connecticut Democrats in the aftermath of his equally infamous hug of President Bush. There's one electoral difference, however. Lieberman ran for renomination in 2006, lost the August Democratic primary to Ned Lamont, then ran and won as an independent. Florida, however, has a "sore losers" law — you have to decide before the primary whether or not you plan to run as an independent; you can't wait to see if you lose the primary.
Meanwhile, what do you think Crist will do? Enter our completely unscientific poll: