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Politics

Davis, not Crist, will go to Pensacola to campaign

By STEVE BOUSQUET AND ALEX LEARY
Published November 6, 2006


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PINELLAS PARK - Charlie Crist ended three days of indecision Sunday by saying he won't join President Bush at an election eve rally in Pensacola today.

Crist said he was not avoiding the president. Rather, he said it was more important to be in other TV markets where the race for governor with Jim Davis is much closer.

"It's important for me to be all over the state," Crist said. "What's important in a state as big as ours is to make sure you touch as many people as you possibly can."

Democrats weren't buying the Republican's explanation. Davis blasted Crist's decision and noted that he appeared with Bush at a party fundraiser in September.

"Now that the president is so unpopular, Charlie refuses to stand side-by-side with him," Davis said in Fort Myers. "It says when the going gets tough, Charlie won't stand up."

In a poll of 800 voters conducted in late October for the St. Petersburg Times, 44 percent of Floridians said Bush was doing a poor job.

Fort Lauderdale lawyer Mitchell Berger, a Davis fundraiser, called Crist's decision "a gutless act."

Crist himself did not announce the decision to snub the president, a clear sign of the sensitivity of a major Florida candidate keeping his distance from an unpopular president, who also happens to be the brother of the governor.

Crist designated his chief campaign aide, George LeMieux, to break the news as Crist worked a crowd at the Wagon Wheel Flea Market in Pinellas Park.

LeMieux emphasized that it was his decision to skip Pensacola, a heavily Republican area that Crist is expected to win handily on Tuesday. But Crist later contradicted LeMieux and said he made it.

Crist scheduled airport rallies in seven cities on one final swing before Election Day, adding West Palm Beach to the schedule. He will get no closer to Pensacola than Jacksonville.

Davis announced a fly-around to five cities, including Pensacola, where he picked up the editorial endorsement Sunday of the Pensacola News-Journal.

 

[Last modified November 6, 2006, 05:15:36]


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