CRIST TO BUSH: DON'T CALL ME, I'LL CALL YOU.

CRIST TO BUSH: DON'T CALL ME, I'LL CALL YOU. As we've been covering over at Midterm Madness, Florida's gubernatorial race against state Attorney General Charlie Crist (R) and Rep. Jim Davis (D) has grown increasingly tight in recent weeks, so much so that President Bush is on his way to the Sunshine State now to lend a hand.

Crist, however, won't be there.

In another sign of how Bush's market value has fallen, Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist said yesterday that he would skip the president's rally in Pensacola this morning. The White House put the Florida stop on Bush's election-eve schedule specifically to promote Crist, only to be embarrassed by his last-minute defection. That will make the most prominent Florida politician appearing at the event Senate candidate Rep. Katherine Harris, who appears headed for a crushing defeat and whom the Bush family has tried to avoid this fall.

Crist cited the need to campaign elsewhere, but it's worth remembering that he had already agreed to appear with Bush before backing out over the weekend.

Moreover, in case the slight against the president wasn't quite obvious enough, Crist will campaign with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) around the same time as the Bush event. Ouch.

--Steve Benen

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