With Gov. Charlie Crist facing a brutal Republican U.S. Senate primary or a full-blown party mutiny if he runs as an independent, prominent supporters are urging him to consider a third option: quitting altogether.
The toughest assessment came from the arm of the national Republican Party that had clamored to endorse Crist and shove aside rival Republican Marco Rubio nearly one year ago, when their positions in the polls were reversed.
"We believe there is zero chance Gov. Crist continues running in the Republican primary," said Rob Jesmer, executive director of the National Republican Senate Committee, in a memo. "It is our view that if Gov. Crist believes he cannot win a primary, then the proper course of action is he drop out of the race and wait for another day."
The memo added that Texas Sen. John Cornyn, NRSC chairman, would have delivered the advice personally -- if Crist had returned his phone call.
The governor confirmed his party's fears when he acknowledged for the first time Monday -- after weeks of denying it -- that he's considering an independent bid. Down roughly 20 points in the polls despite weeks of anti-Rubio television ads, Crist quietly yanked the spots in Orlando and Tampa Bay over the weekend.
"I'm getting all kinds of advice," Crist said in a telephone interview Monday, dismissing the pressure from national Republicans. "I take my cues from people in Florida. That's what I care about."
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