Crist sounding more and more ... independent

Either Charlie Crist realizes he can’t escape the stimulus, or he’s leaning toward an independent run for Senate.

Crist is saying some curious things for a man in the midst of a conservative primary challenge.

Here’s a few, just from the last couple days:

From an appearance on Fox and Friends: “(Obama has) done some things that are good for our state; he’s done some things that are not good for our state. But what I have to do is make sure that I’m working with anybody who will do things that are good for our state and not just cast them aside because they have a different letter behind their name.”

On supporting the stimulus: “I don't apologize for it at all. It was the right thing to do. We needed the money. It saved 87,000 jobs for our state.”

More: “I understand that different people view (the stimulus) in a different way. In the shoes that I stand in right now, I've got to look out for the people, and that's what I'm doing."

Crist met with Obama in Washington this week after (not-so-smoothly) ignoring him late last year. He has also parted ways with some key campaign staff, including political director Pablo Diaz and new media consultant Sean Doughtie, who said simply, “The campaign was going in a different direction.”

The campaign is definitely headed in a different direction, which is to be understood, what with its declining poll numbers. The question is what kind of direction.

Crist’s camp has steadfastly denied it will go the independent route, but Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) was saying the same thing mere days before he made the switch.

An independent run is easily the most tempting scenario for political junkies, and polls show Crist would stand a better chance of winning in a three-way race with Marco Rubio and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) than he would of winning the GOP primary. He’s got to know that he will probably never win the presidency as a Republican, so now is as good a time as any to reevaluate.

If he does want to go down that road, he must decide by April 30. He can still take the $7.6 million he has banked and use it on an independent bid, so he would have a fighting chance without a party infrastructure behind him.