White House unhappy over Fla. no-show

November 07, 2006|By Los Angeles Times

PENSACOLA, FLA. -- The schedule for the GOP's Florida Victory Rally said President Bush would be introduced to the crowd by the Republican Party's nominee for governor, Charlie Crist.

The president was there, but Crist was not. And the White House signaled its unhappiness.

With Bush receiving poor marks in opinion polls, some Republican candidates have indicated that they do not want to appear with him in public. Crist's campaign said that was not the case in this instance. It said the candidate had no need to spend his final campaign day in Pensacola, the site of yesterday's rally, because voters there tend to be conservative and already support him.

Still, Karl Rove, Bush's chief political strategist, made a remark to reporters about Crist's decision to appear in Palm Beach and other cities instead.

Crist is Florida's attorney general. If elected governor, he would replace Bush's brother, Jeb Bush, who is retiring because of term limits.

A spokesman for Crist's opponent said voters should consider the canceled appearance "a snub."

"President Bush isn't very popular right now," said Josh Earnest, a spokesman for Democratic nominee Jim Davis. "Sensing that this race is getting a lot closer, I think Mr. Crist decided that he didn't want to take a political risk."

Still, Bush endorsed Crist yesterday.

"He's experienced, he's compassionate, and he'll work hard on behalf of all the citizens of this important state," the president said at the rally.

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