The Washington Post's Michael Grunwald gushes over Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist as an "exuberant retail politician who puts the 'glad' into glad-handing, a Reagan-style optimist with a made-for-TV tan, a made-for-TV shock of white hair and a made-for-radio baritone. He is a genial moderate who is nevertheless known as 'Chain Gang Charlie' for his hard line on crime. He is a close ally of the governor, who is far more popular in Florida than President Bush, but he has shown an independent streak by supporting stem cell research and same-sex civil unions and by refusing to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case." LINK
"At a time when other candidates are spending the closing days of this campaign season airing attack ads and calling each other names, it was refreshing to hear an American political leader talking about bipartisan, nonideological solutions to one of the biggest problems facing the country," writes David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register of Sen. Joe Biden's plan for Iraq. LINK
Yepsen also has this in his column about John Kerry: "His presidential hopes are probably over, too. In recent times, Democrats have never given a failed presidential nominee a second chance. Many activists were already ticked at Kerry for mistakes he made in the 2004 campaigns. Now this."
". . . with one 'poorly stated joke' this week in Pasadena, Kerry not only sapped momentum from his party in the final week of a competitive election, he dealt a blow to his own White House aspirations," writes Peter Wallsten in the Los Angeles Times. LINK
Sen. Clinton is getting a little help from her celebrity friends with actor Robert DeNiro and crooner Tony Bennett making recorded calls to New Yorkers in support of her reelection bid. David Saltonstall of the New York Daily News has the story. LINK
Yet another must-read from the Boston Globe on Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) efforts to ease concerns about his Mormon faith, including a private meeting with dozens of Christian evangelical leaders at his home. There's a pro-Romney political organization operating in the South to demystify Romney's religion and a mention of Hugh Hewitt's forthcoming book on Romney, his faith, and the White House reports, Scott Helman. LINK
Note the meetings with and mentions of Gary Bauer and Richard Land, and the last paragraph, which provides more proof, as if any was needed, that venture capitalist Romney is gobbling up a lot of talent that, for whatever reason, doesn't want to board the Straight Talk Express: "(Romney's) PAC has also been in talks with Warren Tompkins, a top-shelf South Carolina campaign consultant who helped Bush win in 2000."
We don't even need to call John Weaver to know what his reaction to that would be.
Jamie Reno of Newsweek interviews Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) about his run for the White House. As the "most conservative GOP to date" in the field, he clarifies that "while I've announced that I am preparing to run for president, I have not made a formal announcement of my candidacy. This gives me a chance to make another speech." LINK
The Victory NH event Rudy Giuliani is scheduled to headline tomorrow in Manchester, NH is officially sold out, reports one Granite State source.
Casting and counting: