Matt Towery

But Gov. Crist, with his silver hair and stunning tan, has a unique ability to dance between the raindrops. While most governors get the big head in their first four years, Crist has taken the exact opposite approach. He is respectful to not just the powerful, but almost sheepishly kind to average citizens who might easily run into him in the capital city of Tallahassee, in St. Petersburg, where he keeps his boat, or in South Florida, where the newly married governor and his bride often visit on weekends.

If the GOP comes to believe down the road that the answer to its prayers is the "anti-Bush," then Charlie Crist might be a Republican dream come true. It is well known among insiders that George W's brother, Jeb Bush, who served eight years as Florida's governor immediately prior to Crist, isn't wild about Crist. That's in part because Crist, after taking office, rapidly went about dismantling key elements of Jeb Bush's administration and replaced many of Bush's cronies with new faces. It's also because the GOP-dominated legislature, for the most part, considered Bush an arrogant bully and expressed their pleasure in having a new governor.

In Bush's defense, legislatures often need guidance bordering on bullying.

But what is most interesting is Crist's ability to move from one side of an issue to the other, yet never appear contradictory. If you consider this a bad trait, then you might want to rethink it as to its value in being successful in politics. Former Georgia Governor and Senator Zell Miller even earned the nickname "Zigzag Zell" for his many political twists and turns -- going from Bill Clinton's most important supporter in 1992 to keynote speaker at George W. Bush's second GOP convention. Miller held high approval ratings throughout his years in office.

Once he hits the more partisan ground of Washington there will be plenty of time for Charlie Crist to establish whatever political resume he may need. But, if elected to the Senate, he will undoubtedly be bringing to the "inside the Beltway crowd" a charisma and political talent that might just end up being exactly what the GOP needs … something called "likeability."


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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