November 2, 2013

AP: Charlie Crist Connects With People Like Bill Clinton Does (Really?)

Charlie Crist will formally announce his Florida 2014 gubernatorial candidacy on Monday. He served as Republican Governor of the Sunshine State from 2007 to 2011. He is now running as a Democrat. In 2010, he fell from being a prohibitive front-runner in that year’s U.S. Senate race to a virtual afterthought after Marco Rubio’s ascendance.

In the course of a fawning writeup about Crist’s candidacy, the Associated Press, in a story carried at the Politico, made the following historically questionable claim about Crist:

Crist’s political skills are among the best in the state. His ability to connect with people has often been compared to that of former President Bill Clinton.

That’s an odd description of someone who started out with sky-high approval ratings after becoming Jeb Bush’s successor in 2007 and proceeded to become quite unpopular.

More to the point, a Google News search on ["Charlie Crist" "Bill Clinton" connect] (typed exactly as indicated between brackets) returned 75 results, but from what I could determine turned up no stories which played up the comparison AP wants everyone to assume is a given.

Well, there is a 2006 story about someone with a style resembling Bill Clinton in some respects:

On the stump, … (he) looks like a man who has practiced giving a good speech. He steps away from the lectern a la Bill Clinton. Cocking his head and wagging his finger, he speaks slowly and earnestly, often mentioning his sons …

That’s nice, except for one thing: The person described was former U.S. Congressman Jim Davis, who Crist defeated in the governor’s race that year.

AP seems hopeful for Crist in other portions of its writeup:

If he succeeds, it will be an amazing turnaround for the person who many thought could be 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain’s running mate, if not a Republican presidential candidate in his own right.

Republicans have pounded Crist for months anticipating the announcement, calling him a political opportunist who will say and do anything to remain politically relevant.

… Crist’s downfall in the Republican Party can be linked to an appearance with President Barack Obama in 2009. The Democratic president hugged Crist during a rally to support a $787 billion federal stimulus package that most Republicans opposed.

Crist has been well-received at Democratic Party events.
“More than I could ever dream for. I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness,” Crist said during a state Democratic Party conference last month.

Crist currently leads incumbement Republican Rick Scott in the polls. But his 12-point lead in one late September poll shrunk to 4 points in a different early October survey. Obamacare, anyone? Or is it more of “Oh my goodness, he’s serious” reaction?

It seems to me like the AP is engaged in more than a little wishful thinking in what is presented as an “objective” report.

And while we’re in the neighborhood, since when is Mr. Phoney-Baloney “I feel your pain” so obviously presumptively good at connecting with people on anything more than a superficial level?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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