April 18th, 2010
11:13 AM ET
12 years ago

McConnell weighs in on independent bid by Crist

Washington (CNN) – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that Florida’s Republican governor would lose the support of the GOP if he decided to mount an independent bid for Florida’s open Senate seat in this year’s election.

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.

Filed under: 2010 • Charlie Crist • Florida • Marco Rubio • Mitch McConnell • State of the Union
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Emma

    Why do you think he needs the support of the GOP, Mitch??

    April 18, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  2. Tom

    If I were a Floridian I'd vote for Crist. And if the Republicants would not support him if he won well the Democrats would. This is the price the Republicants will have to pay for purging the party of reasonable people.

    April 18, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  3. will

    Sure he will lose Gop support but he would win the senate seat. Tough choice Crist!!

    April 18, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. charles dert

    Mitch McConnell is using scare tactics to deter Crist from contesting as an independent so that the Republican votes don't get split resulting in a Dem winner in the elections. Also, he talks as if Crist has some Republican support right now when in reality it is quite the opposite. So why should Crist care about Republican support anyway since he does not have it in any case? Come on Crist, go for it and run as an independent and let the extreme right wingers sip Tea after the elections.

    April 18, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |

    Gov. Crist,

    Run as an independent or a democrat. We need moderates with common sense in Washington.

    April 18, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  6. JohnRJ08

    Crist would "lose all Republican support if he ran as an independent"? Does that mean Crist is getting Republican support now, or that he would get it if he lost? What an absolutely idiotic comment by McConnell.

    April 18, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  7. ray

    someone should arrest this senator and beat him until he speaks the truth, these republicans lies like water from a fountain.

    April 18, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. Ethan

    Everyone should check out Kendrick Meek. He gets no press but hes a great candidate and a great supporter of the neglected American Middle Class.

    April 18, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  9. Sue

    Again saying no to Crist? I would say that Republicans have a very limited vocabulary–no being it.

    April 18, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  10. bennie new york

    The only way Crist really can win at this point is as an Independent or as a Democrat even. The GOP and it's constituency have made it very clear that there is no room in the party for moderates. They will have Marco Rubio, they will live by Marco Rubio, and they will die by Marco Rubio.

    April 18, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  11. hobart

    Hey Mitch,

    Unless of course, he wins. Then you'll reward him with choice committee assignments to get his vote.

    On the other hand, it's time moderates in the Party stand up to the lunatic fringe. The lunatic fringe you've allowed to define your party has brought about its demise. Once the Party of Lincoln, now you're the Party of racists radical right, the Party that celebrates the Old South, the Party that threatens to secede from the Union, the Party that deliberately incites people to carry machine guns to political rallies, and the Party that deliberately incites attacks of racist slurs, spitting, threats of violence and treason, and acts of domestic terrorism.

    Why do Republicans hate America?

    April 18, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  12. Annie, Atlanta

    After Mitch McConnell willingly and knowingly lied to the American people last week regarding financial regulation, why would anything he "weighs in on" be of interest to any of us?

    He's a liar. And we pay him. This is the Republican Senate Minority Leader. I think we should be asking him: "Have you no decency, sir?" Someone? Anyone? Are there any journalists left with the guts to call these guys out?

    April 18, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  13. Operation Crush Rush

    Rubio is just a stooge.He wants to be Cubas next president .

    April 18, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  14. Chuck

    Mitch using fear to keep Crist from taking the seat under a party identity other than Republican. This proves the mistake they made letting the tea party dictate GOP candidates.

    April 18, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  15. Ruty

    Go Crist go. Show the idiots you got balls.

    April 18, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  16. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    He's not getting the support of the GOP now, dingus. And how come this was such a great idea for Democracy when Lieberman did it? Oh yeah, he was a Democrat.

    April 18, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  17. Rob

    Rubio is the last thing we need in Florida, a crook who uses public office to make himself wealthier. This FAU thing stinks pretty bad, and if he gets elected we can expect more of the same. Keep pandering to the ever aging republican base Mr. Rubio, the younger people in FL can see right through your usedcar salesman slickness

    April 18, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  18. cspurgeon

    He weouldn't lose asll of the Republican support and he would gain from independents and Democrats. He is a good govenor , at least when he isnt dancing to the right. We need and want Centrists and McConnel is one that needs to be voted out. UGH.It is time for americans to work together and the far left and far right need to get out of the way, The leader of the minority does not sspeak for all republicans,much less Americans...Cmon Charlie..Make your move.

    April 18, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  19. Rob

    Geez, maybe if the Democrats put up a viable candidate to win there would be some hope. People arent going to be motivated to show up at the polls.

    April 18, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  20. ed fl

    Lets face it, the [GOP POLITICOS] are controlled by the politicians from the south and mostly along the bible belt. It has long ago been established that the population in that area are/will always be RACISTS.They are also less educated due to the fact the politicians find it easier to control people that feel they are owed allegience to the politicians that give them a few goodies occasionally. The education level of these politicians is also lesser and it is easier to spell a 2 letter word [NO] than a 3 letter word[ YES].consequently the country is at a standstill Having an African American president is killing them, hence the continual roadblock.

    April 18, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  21. Sorensen

    Here we go again. The "girly-man" gets it all wrong again.
    When does the GOP figure out, that this sorry clown is destroying
    whatever miserable pieces are left of their party.

    April 18, 2010 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  22. Mike

    Christ is a liberal wearing the Republican Name(RINO)and that is why Rubio will win. We do not need another RINO or another demorat in either house of the congress and we definitely need to get rid of the current occupant of the White House.

    April 18, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  23. Proud member of Global Zero

    Let's see, Rubio is for phasing out Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Christ is for Drilling off the Florida coast with IN a 3 mile radius of the shore. Not much choice there for me, a registered voter in Florida.

    Meeks stands for the Middle Class, fiscal responsibility, and education.

    Guess who gets my vote.

    April 18, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  24. Clint

    Now the turtle neck McConnell fool is threatening Charlie Crist?? I'll tell prissy Mitch to watch my smoke, leave the GOP and do what's RIGHT for Fl.

    April 18, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  25. Florida Needs Kendrick

    As a Florida voter, I will say that I have always liked Crist. However, I find that Rubio is the worst thing that can happen to this state. If you are looking for a great candidate, it is Kendrick Meek. I had the great honor of meeting him on more than one occasion, and I must say he really is a good man. He stands for the middle class, he has served the state of Florida as a state trooper, he goes above and beyond to help people, he is intelligent, and he is not divisive. Kendrick all the way!!!

    April 18, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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