Poor Charlie Crist. The man who actively encouraged him to run for Senate in the first place, Sen. John Cornyn, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is now painting Crist's role in the election as that of a political sacrificial pawn.
Cornyn said he only recruited Crist for purely selfish reasons after Jeb Bush declined to run.
"I looked around to see who was the most popular Republican in the state, and somebody who was a good fundraiser, and that person was Charlie Crist. And, selfishly, given the limited resources we have and the national scope of our responsibilities here, I didn't want to have to spend any money in Florida if we didn't have to help. So Charlie Crist seemed like the ideal candidate," he tells MSNBC's First Read.
Then, of course, along came Tea Bagger superstar Marco Rubio.
"So, I think our posture here is, I endorsed Gov. Crist early on, really before this became a real contest. I'm not going to do anything to change that. I think I'm honor-bound to leave it as is. But it doesn't mean that we're going to spend any money in the primary. It doesn't mean we're going to be saying anything bad about Marco Rubio. To the contrary, I think Marco Rubio, if he wins the nomination, will beat Kendrick Meek."
In fact, Cornyn, in a round about way, credits Crist with helping pave the way for a possible Rubio win. The popular Governor entering the race meant that many powerful Dems decided to stay out of it. Though, Alex Sink made her announcement that she wouldn't run for Senate before Crist entered, Cornyn credits the threat of Crist with keeping her out.
"I think it's shaped the playing field in a way that advantages us regardless of who wins the primary."
In fact, if Rubio hadn't gotten the chance to jump up and down on Crist's record and that picture of him hugging Obama he might not be as well known as he is now. It's also quite possible that if the RNSC hadn't snagged Crist, they would have picked someone else, and that person might not have been Rubio. In fact, it could have been a person the Rubio campaign might have had a harder time building up traction again.
Tea Baggers are still fuming at Cornyn for endorsing Crist early on, but hey, it might have just been the best thing that happened to them.