Club for Growth Calls Out Crist on the Stimulus

You knew it was coming. A day after Charlie Crist told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he "didn't endorse" the $787 billion federal stimulus bill, Club for Growth is up with an ad featuring TV footage of the Florida governor onstage with President Obama earlier this year praising the bill. "We know it's important to pass this stimulus package," Crist said at a joint rally with Obama in early February, a clip that opens up the club's ad. The group then goes through a litany of statistics suggesting how the stimulus has not helped Florida, including the state's rising unemployment numbers, as well as the increasing federal deficit.

On Wednesday, a day after GOP primary opponent Marco Rubio debuted a Web site trashing Crist's appearance with Obama, the Florida governor defended himself on CNN, offering up the most unconvincing line we've heard since "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." "I didn't endorse it. I didn't even have a vote on the darned thing," Crist, who also signed a letter urging the bill's passage, told CNN. "But I understood that it was going to pass, and I wanted to be able to utilize it for the benefit of my fellow Floridians." Today, speaking to reporters at the statehouse in Florida, Crist dug himself a little deeper, suggesting he wouldn't have even voted for the bill. Crist says he viewed the bill as taxpayer dollars coming back to Florida to "benefit" residents. "I, like all other Republican governors, utilized that money for the benefit of the people in my state," the governor told CNN. "And that's what a pragmatic conservative does—a CEO, if you will, of a state does that." That seems like a fair and reasonable argument: Crist was doing what he thought was best for Florida. But his attempts to walk a thin line between supporting and endorsing the stimulus has muddled all of that. You'd think Crist, who is a pretty savvy politician, would have known better.