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Crist's Slow Escape From The GOP

Yesterday's debate between Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio doesn't change my long-held view that Crist will/should run for Senate as an independent. This answer to the question of whether he'll run as an independent, for instance, sounded awfully like the words of a man who, at the very least, is keeping the door open:

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 the principles of 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.

Translation: I'm running as a Republican right now.

It was also telling that Crist willingly allowed himself to be positioned a member of the tiny moderate Republican caucus:

WALLACE: Let me -- let me follow up and then I'm going to let Mr. Rubio respond.

Only three Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted for the Obama stimulus when it passed in 2009, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Arlen Specter. Are you saying that if you had been a senator, Republican senator, in the U.S. Senate in 2009 you would have voted for the stimulus?

CRIST: Yeah, that's pretty clear. I mean, you know, I think it was the right thing to do at the time. You have to go back and remember what was happening in our economy. It was literally falling off the cliff.

There's no way you can compete in a Republican primary in Florida and let yourself get painted as being the ideological partner of a Maine Republican or a guy who's now a Democrat.