[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/29/art.crist.sotu.0829b.cnn.jpg caption =" Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is trying to find the middle road in his independent bid for the U.S. Senate."](CNN) - Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was elected to office as a Republican, but without his former party's backing in the Sunshine State's Senate race, it's clear he is trying to position himself directly in between his Democratic and Republican rivals on the political spectrum.
In an interview that aired Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, Crist straddled the line between the two parties on health care, same-sex marriage and Sarah Palin.
The governor also declined to say which party he would caucus with should he win election, repeating his oft-used maxim that he would "caucus with the people of Florida."
Crist would be ineligible to receive committee assignments and have far less power in the Senate if he chose not to caucus with one of the two major political parties. His decision of which party to side with could ultimately decide the balance of power in the Senate, which in turn would dictate the chamber's legislative agenda. When asked if Florida voters have a right to know which side he'd choose, Crist dodged the question.
"I think they know the way I'm going to go, I'm going to go the way that is best for them," Crist said. "[...] I don't have to say I'm going to caucus with the Democrats or the Republicans."
Watch key parts of Crist's extensive interview with Ed Henry, after the jump:
Crist came under fire Friday after he told an Orlando television station that he would have voted for President Obama's health care bill, only to issue a statement immediately after the interview that said he "misspoke" and would have voted against the legislation. The immediate flip-flop drew equally quick fire from both of his opponents - Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, a Republican.
In his interview with CNN's Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry, who was filling in for Candy Crowley, Crist reaffirmed that he would have voted against the bill, but stopped short of calling for its repeal - something he called for in March and something Rubio has consistently called for since launching his campaign.
"What we need to do is we need to fix it and we need to go forward," Crist said. "This is about doing what's right for the people, this election is about the future."
Crist has been more consistent on the issue of same-sex marriage. The Senate candidate supports a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but said he is tolerant of gay and lesbian couples.
"When it comes to marriage, I think it is a sacred institution, I believe it is between a man and a woman," Crist said, "but partners living together, you know, I don't have a problem with it."
"It's just how I feel," he added.
In 2008, Crist told CNN's "American Morning" that he thought then-vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin "would do a great job" if she had to run the country. Crist's present thoughts on the matter were markedly different.
"Doesn't really matter," he said when asked if he felt the same way about Palin today.
"I'm not going to issue a statement on Sarah," Crist added.
Crist did make entirely clear the fact that he believes the federal government's economic stimulus has been a success in his state. He said, "the math is not hard to figure out."
"After we got the [stimulus] money, that helped us save or create 20,000 jobs in education alone - a total of about 80,000 jobs that otherwise we wouldn't have right now," Crist said. "In other words [...] the unemployment rate would be even higher than it is without that help."
According to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted August 11-16, Crist, who is running as an independent candidate, holds a 39 percent to 32 percent lead over Republican candidate Marco Rubio.
Rep. Kendrick Meek, who secured the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, trails the two front-runners with 16 percent. The poll carried a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.