At a swanky luncheon yesterday inside a softly lit ballroom at the Coconut Grove Ritz-Carlton, former and likely future governor Charlie Crist had a few things to say. Among them: His favorite movie is Philadelphia; his new book costs $25 but will be cheaper in paperback; and his campaign had just received a check from Steven Spielberg.
The fundraising event was sponsored by the Miami Dade Justice Association, the association of local trial lawyers. Crist, a former trial lawyer himself, predictably started things off by buttering up the crowd. "I suspect that's why you love the law," he concluded. "Because when you can actually right a wrong, it's really an amazing thing."
Fair enough: When in a room full of trial lawyers you want to give money to you, best to say nice things about trial lawyers. But then the rail-thin, perma-tanned former governor, wearing a tie and shirt as clean and white as his hair, seemed to employ what might best be called a stream-of-consciousness speech model.
For a half hour or more over the lawyers' clanking forks, he drifted between everything from his daily phone calls with his father ("The Real Charlie Crist") to his new book ("I think it'll make you laugh, but it might make you cry") to Rick Scott's opposition to high-speed rail ("I'm like, 'what was that about?'").
He also regularly interrupted himself for a stream of awkward jokes and shout outs to donors.
"Representative, thank you for being here," he said at one point, abruptly transitioning from a strange monologue on his disinterest in money and directing the comment to a legislator in the back of the room.
"You're getting married in like, a second?"
"God bless you."
At one point Crist began ripping on the governor for not being a populist. The governor, he said, didn't understand transportation problems because he rode around in his helicopter instead of driving on the freeways. But then he seemed to catch himself. Not that there was anything wrong with helicopters, he corrected. "Some of you might have one. God bless you if you do. And if you do we'd like to use it during the campaign."
Even the fundraising plea got kind of weird. "Please go to CharlieCrist.com and give me $1," he said, noting that he was running against a $100 million fortune belonging to Gov. Rick Scott.
"So give me the one, and if you want to give a little more that's between you and the Big Guy. And then we'll get your email, and it's free, we can communicate."
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Finally, he said, another term for him would lead to a better future. "For your children," he said. "And for your grandchildren. All five of them, Neil."