National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) on Monday all but expressed his regret for getting behind Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) last May in the Sunshine States open-seat Senate race.I endorsed Gov. Crist early on, really before this became a real [primary] contest, Cornyn said at a press conference at NRSC headquarters. Im not going to do anything to change that. I think Im honor-bound to leave it as it is. It doesnt mean were going to be spending any money in the primary. It doesnt mean were going to be saying anything bad about his primary challenger, former state Speaker Marco Rubio (R). That seems to be a far cry from how Crist described the primary on May 12, when he released a statement announcing that he was endorsing Crist.Governor Crist is a dedicated public servant and a dynamic leader, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee will provide our full support to ensure that he is elected the next United States Senator from Florida, Cornyn said 10 months ago. Crist entered the Senate primary as the unquestioned favorite, but since that time Rubios campaign has caught fire among conservative activists. The governor now finds himself trailing Rubio in several polls and, despite Crists massive cash-on-hand advantage, Rubio appears to be in the drivers seat.On Monday, Cornyn seemed to blame himself for jumping into the Florida primary too early.After former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) passed on the race in early 2009, Cornyn said he looked around the state to find the most popular Republican who was also a good fundraiser, and Crist was the most obvious choice.Selfishly, given the limited resources we have and the national scope of our responsibilities, I didnt want to spend any money in Florida if we didnt have to help. So Charlie Crist seemed like the ideal candidate, Cornyn said. This had nothing to do with Marco Rubio, who I subsequently met and have a lot of respect for. Cornyn said Crists entry into the race last May had an effect on the Democratic field by prompting state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink a candidate that Cornyn described as a powerhouse in Florida to pass on the race and run for governor instead.Crists candidacy shaped the playing field in a way that advantages us regardless of who wins the primary, Cornyn said.In recent weeks, some conservatives have wondered whether Crist may switch parties or run as an Independent rather than risk losing to Rubio in the GOP primary. Crists campaign has vigorously denied that as a possibility.When asked about the possibility of Crist leaving the party, Cornyn said he has heard nothing to confirm that at all.A few other highlights from Mondays press conference, in which the chairman pointed out the perils of Democrats health care strategy, included Cornyn being asked for his take on a controversial Republican National Committee fundraising presentation that openly acknowledged a plan to stoke the politics of fear.
Former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, holds his hand over his heart during the singing of the national anthem as he waits to take the stage for his town hall campaign rally with Sen. John McCain at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H., on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.