Once considered the favorite, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist now finds himself trailing in the polls against former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, who has become a darling of conservatives in the past year. Crist and Rubio are set to face off in Florida’s Aug. 24 Republican senatorial primary. And Crist has denied any plans to cede the GOP nomination to Rubio and, instead, run as an independent in an effort to capitalize on his statewide name recognition and potential popularity with Democrats in the state. But rumors have persisted that he will abandon the GOP primary and set up a three-way battle between himself, Rubio, and Democrat Rep. Kendrick Meek in November.
Asked about Crist’s situation Sunday, the top Senate Republican said he was confident a Republican would win the Florida seat later this year.
“I think we’re going to elect a Republican senator in Florida and the Republican primary voters in Florida are going to determine who that is,” McConnell said on CNN’s State of the Union.
“Looks like Marco Rubio is running a very effective campaign and seems to have the lead,” McConnell said. “I’m going to be there behind the Republican nominee whoever that is.”
But McConnell’s view quickly changed when asked to weigh in on the possibility of an independent bid by Crist.
“He would lose all Republican support if he were to run as an independent,” McConnell told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.