Today's guest blogger is Rich, a single Dad from Morristown, NJ (hey, maybe we need a Dads for McCain blog too!) Rich is assistant organizer of the John McCain Meetup group, come check it out and thank Rich for sharing his thoughts!
Americans are going to be watching carefully who John McCain chooses as his vice presidential running mate. For many, it will be the first indication of how McCain plans to govern and in which direction he plans to take the country. This election is about change. Americans are fed up with high gas prices, a mismanaged war, and sky high deficits. They place the blame for these problems squarely on the shoulders of George W. Bush and the Republicans in Congress.
Recently in three special elections, Republicans lost what were considered strong GOP seats. The first loss came in Illinois' 14th Congressional District. It was a seat vacated by former House Speaker Dennis Hastert and one that Republicans won in 37 out of the last 38 elections. Next came a loss in Louisiana's 6th Congressional District. Republicans held the seat there for three decades. Finally, Republicans gave up another seat in Mississippi's 1st Congressional District, which George Bush won by 25 points in 2004. Tom Davis, the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee has predicted that the November elections will be for Republicans nothing less than a "bloodbath".
It's against this backdrop that John McCain has to his choose his vice presidential running mate. Anyone associated with the Bush administration in person, or in outlook would be a drag on the ticket and allow the Democrats a victory. Nothing would signal a more clean break with the Bush administration than McCain's choice of running mate. McCain should choose someone moderate and independent, someone who has a proven record of working across the aisle - another maverick.
I think Florida Governor Charlie Crist would be a brilliant choice. Extremely popular, he also enjoys one of the highest approval ratings of any Republican office holder in the country. He could effortlessly deliver the state of Florida, then could spend time campaigning in important swing states like Pennsylvania, which is where he happens to have been born.
Crist (shortened by his father from Christodoulou) comes from humble family roots. Crist's Grandfather came to this country a penniless Greek immigrant from Cyprus and shined shoes before building a successful business. Crist himself was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania before the family moved to St. Petersburg, Florida where he played quarterback and became class president. It's an American success story that many of us can identify with, and one that would probably appeal to voters in the all-important swing states.
Unlike other Republicans who come across as bombastic and uncompromising, Crist is extremely affable and has proven appeal to diverse constituencies across the state of Florida. Florida in fact has been called a demographic microcosm of the nation. If he plays well there, he should play well nationally.
In 2007, Charlie Crist became the first governor to attend the Florida NAACP annual convention. He is also a lifelong member of the St. Petersburg chapter and has been referred to as Florida's 'first black governor'. Although Obama would most certainly carry the majority of the African-American vote, Crist is genuinely well liked by African-American leaders, and the Democrats would have a hard time playing the race card against him. Crist also has a good rapport with Hispanics who soon will make up the largest minority in the U.S.
Certain key accomplishments by Crist include, reducing property taxes, imposing strict air pollution standards with the goal of reducing greenhouse-gas by 80%, providing Floridians with less expensive homeowners' insurance, and imposing a ban on drilling off Florida's coastline. Crist also Worked for missing exploited children with 'America's Most Wanted' host John Walsh.
For conservative voters, Crist is pro-life (though not an extremist), has a solid A+ rating from the N.R.A., supported Florida's Defense of Marriage Act, and believes Affirmative Action programs should be discontinued. Crist also has the practical economic experience that comes with running the nation's fourth most populous state.
Let's remember how the past several elections were lost. If Al Gore had carried his home state of Tennessee, he would have won in 2000. If John Edwards could have carried his home state of North Carolina, John Kerry would have been elected. The south is already solidly behind McCain. What we need to win are the crucial swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. These seem tailor-made for a McCain-Crist ticket.
The big problem with several other possible vice presidential candidates is that their appeal is limited to certain segments of the Republican party. Strictly appealing to evangelicals or the economic wing of the party is too narrow. Others would be unable to carry their home states for the ticket. What McCain needs is a running mate with broad popular appeal, and one that can deliver. That person in my opinion is Charlie Crist.
Watch Charlie Crist on youtube talk about Rush Limbaugh, operation chaos, Barack Obama and John McCain.