Crist Run Tests GOP Tolerance for Moderates
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2009 8:06 AM CDT

(Newser) – With his moderate reputation and warm personal style, Charlie Crist’s Senate candidacy ought to be just what the doctor ordered for Republicans. But the party’s right wing is looking the gift horse in the mouth, writes EJ Dionne of the Washington Post. Conservatives have long distrusted Crist, but he sent them into apoplectic fits when he not only enthusiastically endorsed the stimulus, but actually hugged President Obama.

The conservatives have an able champion in Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American Jeb Bush protégé. He’s already issued an online ad featuring an image of Crist speaking to Obama. Hungry for a win, national Republicans are backing Crist. But “Florida will be one of the clearest tests of whether rank-and-file Republican voters are more interested in doctrinal purity, or in winning—even if it means nominating an Obama hugger.”