April 28th, 2010
08:40 PM ET
12 years ago

Steele: Crist win 'a real possibility' in three-way race

Washington (CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele acknowledged Wednesday that an independent run for Senate by Republican Gov. Charlie Crist could jeopardize the GOP's ability to hold onto the Florida Senate seat.

Crist, the one-time frontrunner to win the seat in November, is now trailing Republican primary opponent Marco Rubio by more than 20 points. Multiple sources tell CNN that Crist will announce Thursday afternoon that he will leave the GOP primary and run as a nonaligned candidate.

Related: Crist to run for Senate as nonaligned candidate, source says

Steele said in an interview on "The Situation Room" that he doesn't want the governor to leave the Republican Party, but noted the RNC is committed to doing what needs to be done to keep the seat in GOP hands.

"That's a real possibility," Steele said of the chance Crist could win in a three-way race. "It's a dynamic that's unfortunate in my view. I think that the voters out there should be given a chance to have a clean call between the Republican nominee and the Democratic nominee, Congressman [Kendrick] Meek. We're looking forward to helping carry the Republican nominee across the finish line. What the governor – I would not want the governor to leave the party but that's his decision to make."

On the issue of illegal immigration, the RNC chairman said he agreed with Republican strategist Karl Rove, who recently expressed concern that the Arizona law could alienate Latino voters from the GOP.

"We need as a party to be mindful that our prior actions in this area and certainly our prior rhetoric in this area has not been the most welcoming and the most supportive of helping those who want to assimilate into the way of life of America," Steele said.

But the chairman made a point not to criticize Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a fellow Republican, who last week signed a new law that gives police officers expanded powers to check people's immigration status. Supporters argue that it is needed, while opponents claim it will lead to civil rights violations.

"The governor of Arizona acted in the best interests of the people of Arizona," said Steele.

He also emphasized in the interview that the issue of immigration needs to be depoliticized.

"The realities right now for the country – as reflected in Arizona and elsewhere – is that we as a people have to come to grips with this issue of immigration," Steele said. "We can no longer use it as a political football. We must keep in mind the families that are impacted by it, the lack of decision in this area. And the leadership has to confront what has always been a growing chorus of concern from the American people is – let's deal with border security and control. Let's put that house in order and then rest then takes care of itself."

Filed under: Charlie Crist • Extra • GOP • Immigration • Michael Steele • Popular Posts • The Situation Room
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. shooter

    All politicians are CROOKS. Do not listen to them.

    April 28, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  2. AJ

    Apparently the GOP isnt willing to do whatever it takes to hold on to the seat. The GOP is committed to moving as far to the right as possible without actually becoming actual NAZIs. Lets hope that Christ does go indy and wins the election.

    April 28, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  3. kmp

    Ha see what happens when you purge your own people.

    April 28, 2010 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  4. Dave

    I hope Crist runs as an independent. There is no room in the Republican party for moderates any more. The only people left are right wing nuts like Rubio who spout nutty ideas that don't hold water. If moderate republicans can't exist in the present republican party then they should run as independents.

    April 28, 2010 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  5. Donnatella

    You better believe it, Crist is gonna win this election, you guys will realize when it is to late that the whole country is not racist, teabagging, right wing nut jobs, we do not want these kind of people leading our country, the fact that no republican has yet to stand up to these out of control wing nuts says a lot about their leadership, just look at them still fighting the wall street reform why because they can. I'm tired of the republican party playing games instead of doing their job. All of this party of NO is beginning to backfire.

    April 28, 2010 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  6. HW

    Lets see you had a Republican that put the citizens of the state first, use common sense,didn't kowtow to the Birthers,Tea people and hypocratic members of his party and what do they do, throw him under the bus. I don't blame Govenor Crist I would show them my back side too !! The Republican party have have gone to the dogs, Sorry PETA, just putting things in perspective.

    April 28, 2010 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  7. Denna

    Hahaaa. The rats are jumping off the GOP ship of fools. I love it. Good luck Charlie Crist. I'm a Democrat, but I can get behind anyone who sees that the GOP is not the Grand Old Party anymore – it is simply the PON – Party of No. If a Democrat doesn't win that seat, I hope that Charlie Crist does.

    April 28, 2010 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  8. SD, Michigan

    If Meeks doesn't win, Crist is OK in my books, He IS a true Independant! Go Crist!

    April 28, 2010 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  9. Mark Ferbet, KCMO

    A moderate Independent is what is needed in Washington. Too many Radical Conservatives and Radical Liberals up there now. Our Government wasn't designed to just be a two party government, and it's high time some people who won't blindly follow either Party, and are free thinkers run as independents.

    Give it a few more years, and Moderates will control both houses.

    April 28, 2010 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  10. Bob in SC

    At least Crist is a positive alternative to the negative thinking and negative acting Rubio.

    April 28, 2010 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  11. Hammerer

    Obama is now calling riot police on senior citizens that protest his policies. Next he will have SEIU storm troopers with him and it will not be pretty. Similar to action taken in Iran.

    April 28, 2010 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  12. DJ

    That was a good move for Crist!!

    April 28, 2010 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  13. Independent_me

    Gov. Crist – you will win, and that will prove to you that the crazies are not the dominant force you thought they were.
    Empty vessels make the most noise. The tea party people are just empty vessels. The sane, thinking people are quietly awaiting their turn...and they will speak in the voting booth!

    Stand with Obama because he is for the middle-class and the poor.
    He is on the right side of history. And besides – God is on the side of the poor.

    April 28, 2010 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  14. Robert Warner

    "we as a people have to come to grips with this issue of immigration”-Chairman Steele. Well then, Mr. Chairman, why don't you tell your party to stop preventing congress from implementing comprehensive immigration reform? Your party seems to think that the demand for all brown-skinned citizens to carry, and present on demand, their birth certificates constitutes reform. I disagree.

    April 28, 2010 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  15. MaryAnn in VA

    The republican party needs to regroup and rethink their strategy. This road they are on leads to ruin.

    April 28, 2010 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  16. George of the jungle

    After the way the repos treated him . Can't imagin he would stay. They throw their own under the bus to keep the tea baggers happy. Hopefully the demo will come out on top

    April 28, 2010 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  17. Frank

    Another Republican blunder. Rubio is a crook and can't stand up to the light of day.

    April 28, 2010 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  18. andre h

    Could alienate latino voters?

    Actually Steele made sense. How unrepublican.

    April 28, 2010 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  19. Geoz

    The only way this is true, is if the GOP is out of touch with most Floridians.

    April 28, 2010 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  20. Dennis

    That seems to be their strategic plan, alienate everybody who does not like, smell or subscribe to their narrow-minded bigoted views. If your name is not Goldman or Sachs or James Dobson they want nothing to do with you. They have managed to lie, cheat and steal their way into power up until now. Now we are on to them.

    April 28, 2010 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  21. Moving The Ball

    Democrats should broker a deal with Mr. Crist that says Mr. Meeks will drop out of the race, 1 week before the election, if he is behind by more than 5%.

    He will then endorse Crist. The price for this, Mr. Crist, after his election, registers as a member of the Democratic party.

    April 28, 2010 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |

    Crist is a poof and should quit. He is not wanted. Go back to your tanning bed.

    April 28, 2010 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  23. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Hey Mikey, you can thank your Tealiban(good one Sniffit), for your republican division. Now that I think about it, JD Hayworth challenging John McCain may not be so bad. All it will lead to is a democrat victory. Go republicans!!!(add sarcasm here)

    April 28, 2010 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  24. Gil

    Divide and conquer! Wouldn't it be wonderful if Meek won to show the Party of No what in fighting can do? The conservative nut cases need to be stopped!

    April 28, 2010 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  25. Makescents

    Run Charlie, Run! You are a voice of common sense in a sea of angry white men in the radical republican party. They played dirty politics with you and you can be a very powerful senator as a much needed independent vote in the senate.

    April 28, 2010 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
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