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Crist: A "DeMint Republican"?

When President Obama arrives in Florida today, he'll be greeted by Gov. Charlie Crist (R). The governor's last appearance with Obama, at an event rallying support for the stimulus bill in February 2009, is at the heart of his troubles now in a primary race for U.S. Senate. He skipped the president's last visit to Florida. But today he says he's meeting the president to send him a message.

"I'm also going to tell them ... that I'm disappointed that not enough bipartisanship has occurred," he told a Florida radio station this morning. "He talks about it and he gives a great speech, but he's got to follow through on the action, and not just have Republicans come to the table."

Former House Speaker Marco Rubio has pulled ahead of Crist in a recent Quinnipiac poll, capitalizing on the unease conservatives have with Crist's record. Crist attributed some of that to the "angst" among voters nationwide and especially in Florida, and also his opponent's full-time campaign.

"I've got a day job, a pretty important one, actually," he said. "When you're out there campaigning all the time you can build up support, and obviously that's happened and I understand that. My focus, however, is on being the bets governor I can be."

There was a bit of a stir this morning online about a claim that Crist had called himself a "DeMint Republican" in the interview. In fact, listening to the audio it's clear the governor never uttered those words. But he did seem to agree with the questioner that he should not be painted as a "McCain Republican." Here's the exchange:

Q: "Why do you think you've been painted as a moderate Republican as opposed to -- a John McCain-like Republican -- as opposed to someone like a Jim DeMint, for example?"

CRIST: "I really don't know. I mean, you know, probably because it's a political season. And, you know, somebody's trying to win a primary, so they try and paint you into a particular picture that doesn't really meet reality. Listen, it's a long way until this primary happens. We got about seven months to go. And what I love about a campaign, it's an educational opportunity for the whole truth to come out. And it will.

For the record, Crist also called himself a "a pro-life, pro-gun, pro-family conservative Republican with common sense." Asked for a reaction, a spokesman for DeMint passed along the senator's thoughts: "I'm a Marco Rubio Republican."

In fact, DeMint's PAC has organized a "money bomb" to drive money to Rubio's campaign, built around the anniversary of the Obama-Crist "embrace."