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Sunday, Aug 31, 2014
Joe Henderson Columns

Crist's Cuba fumble is latest change of direction

By
Published:   |   Updated: June 24, 2014 at 01:05 PM

If the election were held today, who would get your vote?

Rick Scott
73%
Charlie Crist
24%
Not sure
0%
Neither
3%

Total Votes: 33

Charlie Crist said recently he was considering a fact-finding trip this summer to Havana, but Monday he said his plans have changed. I know you'll find the notion of Charlie changing his mind is hard to believe, but that's what happened.

The cover story is that he needs to concentrate on his campaign for governor and might visit Cuba “at some point” after the election. That was after he said earlier this year that the United States should end its 52-year-old embargo with Cuba, which, of course, contradicted his stance of supporting the embargo when he was a Republican.

As a Republican, Crist was against the Affordable Care Act. As a Democrat, he supports it. He was against gay marriage, but now supports it. He has alternately said he is “pro-life” and “pro-choice.”

It sounds more like he is “pro-Charlie” and whatever sells.

I think I just got whiplash.

At this point, it's easy to see how he has squandered the 12-point lead he had last fall over Rick Scott. Depending which poll you believe, the race is either virtually even now or Scott has pulled ahead and has momentum.

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Crist's handlers said he was too busy campaigning here to go Cuba? Of course.

After all, who needs the massive coverage he would have received that wouldn't have cost him a cent, especially against an incumbent with money stacked on top of more money. The trip would have been another chance to show he is different from Scott on important issues.

You don't pass up an opportunity like that so you can make it to a few more fish frys. If he really believes we should end the embargo, he had a chance to stand on the bully pulpit and shout it out. The issue of what Charlie Crist believes or doesn't is what it's all about though, isn't it?

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It's not like Scott's campaign is without flaws. Last week, Orlando TV anchor Ybeth Bruzual reported the governor refused to sit for an interview unless he could choose the topic and the reporter. People still remember the infamous voter purge in 2012 and, of course, he out-Charlied Charlie on Medicaid expansion.

He was against it, then supported it, and now doesn't.

Does anyone have a conviction in this race?

Charlie, of all people, should know the danger of changing his mind too often. After all, he wanted badly to be governor of our state and the people elected him in 2006. Before his first term was up, though, he turned his wandering eyes to the U.S. Senate. We know how that worked out, don't we?

If Charlie weren't plagued by commitment issues he would, in all likelihood, be finishing his second term as governor now. We never would have heard of Rick Scott, and Charlie might be on a short list of potential GOP presidential candiates for 2016 instead of flopping more than a hooked tarpon.

Anyone wanting to be governor of this state should welcome the chance to move the needle on our relationship with Cuba. A leader wouldn't run from that issue, they would run to it. People are going to be mad whether you favor isolation or normalization, so stake out a position and embrace it.

Charlie's proposed trip was controversial, for sure, but if he believes in his cause then that's precisely why he needed to go. What he does or doesn't believe is the real question of his candidacy.

He just fumbled another chance to provide an answer.

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