In 2006, Charlie Crist was a Republican candidate for Florida governor. This story profiled Crist and much of what was said about Crist then, could be said about Crist now. There also are lessons here for incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott's campaign.
A look back at today's Democratic candidate for governor.
By Brian E. Crowley
Walking briskly across the tarmac toward a waiting helicopter, Harkley Thornton has good news for Charlie Crist.
Come July, Thornton says, he's going to have a fund-raiser for Crist's campaign for governor. Crist looks delighted.
Could you have the fund-raiser in June instead? Crist asks in the eager tones of a car salesman pitching the value of leather seats.
Thornton says he would love to do it in June, but he spends that month vacationing in the Bahamas. Crist looks amazed and tells Thornton how lucky he is.
But can you move the fund-raiser to June? It would really help.
The two men are about to board the helicopter at Palm Beach International Airport with a reporter in tow for an aerial view of the Herbert Hoover Dike. Thornton, looking a touch puzzled, shrugs and tells Crist he will talk to his staff about moving the fund-raiser to June.
If possible, Thornton says, he'll come back from the Bahamas for a couple of days.
Crist slaps his shoulder and tells Thornton that would be great.
Smiling candidate plays hardball
For Florida Republicans, Charlie Crist has been the great persuader.
He has persuaded them to give him a whopping $12.8 million in his quest for the GOP nomination for governor.
And, polling suggests, he has persuaded most Republicans to vote for him Sept. 5.
If he wins the primary, the 50-year-old Florida attorney general would enter the general election better known and better financed than the Democratic nominee, either U.S. Rep. Jim Davis or state Sen. Rod Smith. And, some believe, better able to persuade Florida voters that Crist should be the state's 44th governor.
Even his rivals agree that few politicians have Crist's charisma, determination and focus to win. But some suggest that Crist is all style and no substance. He also has been accused of picking popular issues while avoiding tough ones.
Like most politicians, Crist is not shy about fudging the truth to make political points. And he's not afraid to play hardball against his opponents by exploiting any perceived weakness.