The Gay Elephant in the NRSC’s Room

Over the past week, I have repeatedly heard from Republicans troubled by the rumors that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s choice in the 2010 Senate primary, is gay.

At age 52, Crist had never wed until he married Florida businesswoman Christine Rome two weeks before Christmas last year. Those who profess concern about “civility” would say — or at least, should say — that the rumors are thereby disproven. But . . .

Let me share with you a message I received yesterday from someone I don’t know, and who wishes to remain anonymous:

I have no interest in creating a fuss for you or us. Just asking some questions, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
How are you/we/they going to handle the persistent rumors that Charlie Crist is gay? The first conservative blog to raise this issue is going to be slammed by the MSM, the Democrats and Crist’s Republican supporters for rumor mongering and the politics of personal destruction. But these rumors ain’t going away. LGBT groups have already raised the specter of hypocrisy about Crist being safely in the closet while denying gays access to marriage.
If Crist is gay and had sex with a man, what are the odds we are going to hear about it? If so, I would wager that any revelations will come out after he has won the nomination.
If Crist is gay but has been celibate his entire life, until, you know, he married a woman, what impact will the rumors have on conservative voters in Florida?
If Crist is not gay but the rumors persist, again, impact on conservative voters?
Mark Foley Redux?
On the other hand, what negative impact will a public discussion of the topic by conservatives have on the Rubio campaign?

Well, there you go. If I am “going to be slammed by the MSM, the Democrats and Crist’s Republican supporters,” let the slamming begin.

This message, as I said, came to me from someone I don’t know, but people I do know have said much the same thing: No matter what the poll numbers show, no matter how much money Charlie Crist can raise, no matter what the probability that Crist could win the general election, these widespread rumors indicate potentially serious trouble.

And don’t think that liberals haven’t noticed. My tipster forwarded a link to this Huffington Post story:

Crist’s increasing shift to the right on social policy may be canceled out by the documentary film, Outrage, which reports on persistent rumors that Crist is a closeted gay man — even as he states positions against marriage rights for LGBT people and his support for Florida’s ban on adoption by LGBT folks. (Florida’s law is the only such adoption ban in the country; some 4,000 adoptable Florida children languish in foster care.) As shown in Outrage, which opened nationwide just days before Crist announced his Senate bid, the allegations of Crist’s accusers are likely to rankle not only the right, but stand to alienate voters who may not care whether their governor is gay or straight, but who do care about his veracity and integrity — or lack thereof.

The tipster also sent me this Miami Herald story:

Outrage dares to name names, alleging that politicians of various degrees of power — including Idaho Sen. Larry E. Craig, California Rep. David Dreier and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist — have supported bans on gay marriage, gay adoption and AIDS-support bills from the relatively safety of their closets.

OK, this is not a story that really interests me, either politically or personally. But as my tipster says, you can bet good money that it’s a story the MSM are going to be very interested in — if and when Crist gets the Republican nomination.

The Huffington Post story references the reporting of Broward-Palm Beach New Times columnist Bob Norman. (Who seems to be turning “Is Charlie Crist gay?” into a career.) Critics will say that Norman repeats second-hand gossip, but (a) the gossip is very specific, and (b) Norman at least had the decency to call Crist and give him the opportunity to deny the gossip.

Norman names two people, one a Republican staffer who reportedly claimed to have had sex with Crist, the other rumored to have been Crist’s male partner. Norman then linked to a Miami Herald story reporting that the alleged partner was a convicted thief who had worked on Katherine Harris’s 2006 Senate campaign.

All of which may mean absolutely nothing and is irrelevant to the more fundamental problem of the NRSC trying to pre-empt an open-seat GOP primary by crushing the hopes of the notoriously studly Marco Rubio. But . . .

Did NRSC chairman John Cornyn and Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer take any of this into consideration before endorsing Crist? Surely, Greer must have been aware that these rumors had been dogging Crist for years.

If these rumors had not already been publicly aired by the Huffington Post and Florida media, I would have disregarded the anonymous tip. But the story is out there, and to have ignored it under these circumstances would have been a disservice to Republican readers concerned about the Florida Senate race.

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