For Bush, a public snub on election eve

The president campaigns in Florida for Charlie Crist, who suddenly finds a need to be somewhere else.

Published November 6, 2006 7:17PM (EST)

George W. Bush is speaking now at a rally in Pensacola for Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist. Something like 10,000 people are there, but Charlie Crist isn't one of them.

Crist's people insist that he isn't steering clear of the commander in chief; it's just that Pensacola is pretty solidly Republican, and Crist needs to be campaigning today in parts of the state where there are more swing voters to attract. Nobody seems to be buying it. As the Associated Press notes, the White House twice put out schedules showing Crist in attendance and introducing the president, and even Fox News is calling the election-eve no-show "something of an embarrassment" for Bush.

As the traveling White House press boarded Air Force One in Texas this morning, Karl Rove said something snippy about how the numbers Crist draws to a campaign event in Palm Beach won't match what Bush would be getting in Pensacola. According to Fox, he immediately tried to claim the remark was off the record, but cameras had been rolling and the assembled reporters declined to go along.

So who is with the president in Pensacola today? Jeb Bush and Mel Martinez, who aren't running for anything right now, and Katherine Harris, who's running but won't win.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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