Crist: Tea Party 'a positive'

The Hill's J. Taylor Rushing recently spoke with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist about the loneliness of his Independent Senate bid, his decision to keep his old party's donations and the strength of the Tea Party movement.

Here's the latest installment:

Crist has kind words about the Tea Party movement that has buoyed the Senate candidacy of his one-time GOP primary opponent, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, but he also notes that the movement's strength has not really been tested yet.



Facing a double-digit polling gap with Rubio, Crist left the Republican Party in late April, choosing to run for Sen. Mel Martinez's (R) seat as an Independent candidate. Rubio is a favorite of Tea Party activists, but Crist notes that the movement has faced few large-scale challenges.



"It's hard to say how strong it is. I don't think any of us really know, because we've only really seen it in play in primaries," Crist told The Ballot Box. "General elections are a whole different kettle of fish, as we all know. For example, if I were still in a primary, the audience would be, in terms of voters, maybe 1 million, maybe 1.5 million at the most. Whereas you go to the general election, and all of a sudden you expand to about 8 million.

"It's a whole different ballgame and a very different field of play.

 So it's hard to say what that percentage might be in a bigger audience. But let me say this, I think any increased participation in democracy is good for the country. For people who are frustrated with the current state of affairs in America, having more people participate in it only breathes new life into it. That's a positive, I think."

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