Crist's "Split Attention" and the Haitian Crisis

injured Haitian girl.jpg
Flickr user: UNDP Global
Will Haitian refugees be welcomed in South Florida?
It's hard to watch the footage of injured, homeless Haitians without remembering the desperate Katrina survivors on the rooftops of New Orleans.

Soon, the Katrina refugees were taken in by sympathetic citizens across the United States. But South Florida is no Houston. Our Haitian neighbors routinely drown trying to get here and have never been given the royal treatment when they arrive.

Charlie Crist, a governor facing a tough battle against Marco Rubio in the Senate primary race, now gets to wrestle with how to handle the almost-certain wave of refugees. And none of his options are easy. 

"Some time in the next several months, the governor might be faced with some of those issues," says Sid Dinerstein,
chairman of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County.  "It's hard to speculate whether that works for you or against you."

Right. It's tough to speculate because this could be a disaster for Crist, who's already been accused of being MIA the past several months, campaigning out of town while his state drowns in high unemployment and foreclosure rates.

"There is that kind of problem of split attention," admits Dinerstein.

For Crist to now play the role of concerned, sympathetic governor -- not just a candidate looking to avoid a "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" moment -- will be quite a challenge.

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