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GOP Leader Won't Commit To Letting Crist Caucus With Party

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At least one member of Republican Senate leadership is not ruling out the possibility of denying Florida Gov. Charlie Crist a spot in the caucus should he end up in the Senate. Though he's arguing it's a "moot point" because Crist will lose.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair John Cornyn (R-Tex.) told a small group of reporters on Tuesday that Crist had "forfeited any support from the Republican Senatorial Committee or from me personally" after having informally left the party to run as an Independent. Saying it was "highly unlikely" that Crist would win the now three-way election, Cornyn was asked whether the GOP would welcome the governor if he did pull off a victory.

"We would have to take that up if that happened," he said.

That the national GOP would consider extending its ostracism of Crist to even after he won a Senate seat says something about the extent to which the governor has fallen from grace with the GOP. Crist could very well win the election. A new Rasmussen poll of voters in the state had him taking a narrow lead, with 38 percent of the vote to Republican Marco Rubio's 34% and Democrat Kendrick Meek's 17 percent.

Cornyn's outlook, of course, is short-term in regard to the Florida Senate race. As chair of the NRSC, his objective now is to get Rubio elected. And part of that process involves marginalizing Crist as a politician. In all likelihood, if the governor were to win as an Independent and ask to caucus with the GOP, he would be greeted with open arms.

As Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) told the Huffington Post: "If somebody want to caucus with us, it is kind of hard to say no. But we haven't talked about that."

Crist himself has been coy about which party he would caucus with, should he win the Senate seat. Asked about the issue during an appearance this past Sunday on "Meet the Press", he said: "I'll caucus with the people of Florida. And, as I said earlier this week, I'll caucus with anybody who will help my fellow Floridians."

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