The Republican National Convention is on ain delay thanks to Hurricane Isaac, but for the GOP that may in fact be a good thing. If nothing else, it gives them an extra day to try and get their party members back in line.
Former Republican Governor Charlie Crist angered the GOP when he decided to become an independent in order to run for senate. Crist moderated his stances, even vetoing Florida’s mandatory ultrasound law to the dismay of anti-choice legislators. Crist lost the election to Republican Marco Rubio, but now he’s breaking even further from his former political colleagues by announcing that he will not be backing Republican Mitt Romney this election cycle.
“President Obama has a strong record of doing what is best for America and Florida, and he built it by spending more time worrying about what his decisions would mean for the people than for his political fortunes. That’s what makes him the right leader for our times, and that’s why I’m proud to stand with him today,” Crist told The Tampa Bay Times.
Party regulars say that Crist’s final defection means nothing, as he had already been straying from the GOP for years. But Texas Congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul is also refusing to give Romney his official endorsement, which means his delegates may not, either. Paul turned down a chance to speak at the convention–an offer contingent on his full endorsement and a Romney-approved speech. The Texan did not budge on either.
Even the pre-convention “Unity Rally” was less about uniting behind Romney, and more about reminding conservatives of their real mission to ensure Obama does not win a second term in office. Romney’s own representative at the event, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, reinforced the message, saying he supported Romney, but what was more important was getting a candidate that could win. “I believe him — I think he’s the right person at the right time — but also … I want to defeat Barack Obama.”
Although having a unified front would be a positive at this point in the cycle, one thing the party can be happy about is the enthusiasm of their money folk. Multi-billionaire and former Newt Gingrich backer Sheldon Aldelson and his wife are on their way to the convention to be wined and dined and wooed into opening the checkbook for more Super-PAC spending. They will be joining David Koch, who is a delegate this cycle.
With friends like that, it’s doubtful anyone will really miss Crist.