Charlie Crist: If you’re a Ron DeSantis supporter, I don’t want your vote

Source: Hot Air

Maybe the single dumbest political gaffe I’ve ever seen.

And you know what the funny part is? Crist was the sensible, moderate-ish option in last night’s Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary against Nikki Fried. If you wanted a bombthrower, you voted for Fried. If you wanted an old hand with a record of winning statewide who could be counted on not to make silly mistakes, you voted for Crist.

And here he is, some 14 hours removed from his victory, telling half the state’s electorate to kiss his ass.

Crist is a loathsome political opportunist but I never took him for an idiot until now.

Some liberals are trying to rehabilitate his comment by noting that Crist did add that he wants the votes of “good Republicans.” Which, I guess, means that if you’re one of the 49.6 percent of Floridians who voted for DeSantis in 2018, technically Charlie still wants your support — provided that you’ve repented since then.

But Frank Luntz notes that DeSantis currently enjoys a 54 percent approval rating in Florida and a 65 percent approval rating among Florida’s Hispanic voters specifically. How many people who think the governor is doing a good job will watch the clip above and ferociously resent the insinuation that their judgment is being driven by “hate in their heart” rather than by the economy, early school reopenings, and so on?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a politician tell voters who currently prefer their opponent to “stay” with their opponent, especially when their opponent is broadly popular.

It makes me wonder if Crist’s personal dislike for DeSantis has overtaken his better judgment. “Don’t vote for me, DeSantis fans” isn’t something you say strategically, it’s something you say when you can’t contain your contempt. And Crist does seem to feel a lot of genuine contempt for DeSantis:

“He’s the most arrogant governor I’ve ever seen in my life,” Crist said to the assembled teachers who nodded in agreement. “It is shocking, it really is. Enough is enough.”…

“I’m not one to use those sort of strong words, unless they’re true. And in this case, it’s true,” Crist said. “We need to realize what this guy is doing. He wants to be president of the United States, and he’s using Florida as his proving ground to do it.

“He’s a barbaric, wannabe dictator.”

“Barbaric”? You okay, Charlie?

Maybe he’s not okay. Here’s another weirdly effusive outburst with little strategic benefit:

Multiple recent polls of Florida shows Biden’s disapproval rating there hovering at around 60 percent. One of those polls finds him at 34 percent approval among Hispanics. Ohio Democrat Marcy Kaptur greeted Biden at the airport a few weeks ago when he visited her state but more recently she’s taken to running ads that end with the line, “She doesn’t work for Joe Biden; she works for you.” Sleepy Joe is not an asset on the campaign trail. In most places, he’s a liability.

So here’s Charlie Crist rhetorically bear-hugging him in a state that’s gotten redder in the Trump era. What is he thinking?

For cripes sake, more Republicans turned out to vote in Florida last night than Democrats did even though Dems had a hotly contested gubernatorial primary while the most exciting race on the GOP ballot was agricultural commissioner:

Every anti-Trumper in America should be thanking Crist this afternoon for his attempted self-immolation. The only chance America has to avoid a third Trump nomination is a landslide DeSantis victory in Florida this fall that proves his comparative electability. Crist just made that landslide more likely.

Maybe he’s still an establishment Republican at heart after all.

I wonder if part of the reason he sounds desperate in attacking DeSantis is because Florida Republicans shrewdly denied him the opportunity to run on abortion. After last night’s NY special election, Crist would no doubt be talking abortion nonstop today if DeSantis and the state GOP had moved quickly towards a total ban. They didn’t. They passed a 15-week ban, which is in the range of where most voters are. Crist could and presumably will make the case that DeSantis will try to pass a more restrictive ban once he’s safely reelected — which is true, he will. There’s no way a politician as obsessed with passing righty litmus tests as DeSantis is will sleepwalk into a national primary in 2024 without having gone scorched-earth in the ultimate culture war.

But for now, his moderation on abortion policy has defused the biggest grenade Democrats have. They’re reduced to arguing about hypotheticals. And hypotheticals aren’t going to turn out the base the way a concrete threat will.

I’ll leave you with DeSantis being asked yesterday about whether he intends to go further on abortion and bugging out before he says something he might regret.