Castellanos Whacks Crist, Questions Palin's Appeal

One of the Republican Party's most respected and relied-upon consultants has serious reservations about two the party's biggest names.

Alex Castellanos, a conservative media strategist and regular presence on CNN, raised questions of Sarah Palin's viability for office and took major swipes at Florida Senate candidate Charlie Crist during an appearance at Bloomberg News' Washington Summit Thursday.

The harshest lines were saved for Crist, who Castellanos said was not really a Republican.

"Nobody is running out the Charlie Crists of the world," Castellanos said, when asked about the shrinking GOP tent. "Look, if Barack Obama stood up tomorrow in the Democratic Party and said: 'I got a great idea. George Bush's tax cuts. They are terrific. They are the best thing ever. I'm for that.' What do you think would happen to him in the Democratic Party? He would have stepped out of the mainstream of the Democratic Party at that point. Charlie Crist happens to be the guy who stepped out of the mainstream of the Republican Party."

"The Republicans are actually very unified at this point," Castellanos added. "You see it, recently, in Florida, where the fella who is out of the mainstream is one guy. It happens to be the governor, unfortunately for him. But Marco Rubio [Crist's challenger for the Senate seat] and every Republican in the state doesn't quite understand why... the governor there voted to support this huge stimulus."

Crist, of course, never voted for the stimulus bill. He merely expressed appreciation for the help the president was providing his state. For that acknowledgment, he has been branded a heretic within the GOP. As for the Bush tax cuts, despite Castellanos' assertion, a dozen Senate Democrats did support the measure and none were seriously punished for it.

But Castellanos wasn't done throwing haymakers at fellow Republicans. Asked if former Gov. Sarah Palin, about to embark on a book tour, was she the future of the GOP, Castellanos was skeptical.

"[She's a] fascinating character and that is what the news loves to play," Castellanos observed. "I think [Obama] is stopping by Alaska as he begins this week-long trip to Asia. I don't think he is going to announce that he is resigning from politics," he said, in reference to Palin's abrupt resignation from office.

"I think it is going to be very tough for Sarah Palin, who has stepped back from the governorship under the explanation that her state would be better off without her, to now explain why the other 49 states would somehow be better off with her," he concluded.

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