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Florida Gov. Crist climbs aboard the McCain oil-drilling express

June 17, 2008 |  2:31 pm

If one attribute John McCain wants in a running mate is a good soldier's mentality, it would seem Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has passed the test with flying colors.

As McCain revealed Monday that he now favored an end to the federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain has changed positions and called for an end to the federal ban of offshore oil drilling -- a reversal for him -- and that he would flesh out his position in a speech today, much speculation immediately focused on the tough position in which Crist, an oft-mentioned veep prospect, would find himself.

The Washington Post wrote that the push by McCain to deep-six the ban as part of the response to raising gasoline prices and let each affected state decide the exploration issue "is sure to annoy two key Republican allies," California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Crist. Both have opposed coastal drilling.

In both states, support for the moratorium has been a given for most politicians (for more on how the issue plays in Florida, see this posting on the Chicago Tribune's Swamp blog).

MSNBC's First Read posting this morning noted the following: "No Republicans in Florida have gotten elected statewide without endorsing the moratorium on off-shore oil drilling, so McCain's decision is going to get its share of criticism even from VP wannabe" Crist.

But the item added that if "Crist tries to rationalize the McCain decision then we'll really find out just how much he wants on the ticket."

Apparently, very much.

A story posted by the Miami Herald a short while ago starts thusly: "Describing his position as evolving, Gov. Charlie Crist said he now supports exploratory drilling for oil and gas off Florida's coast because 'Floridians are suffering.' "

For more on Crist's change of heart, go here.

Schwarzenegger -- who, because he's a naturalized American citizen, is constitutionally prohibited from a spot on a presidential ticket -- is standing firm.

According to a statement ...

sent to us minutes ago by his office, he "opposes new drilling off the coast of California and supports the federal moratorium on new coastal drilling."

The statement adds that Schwarzenegger "will disagree with Sen. McCain from time to time but he remains fully supportive of the senator's candidacy."

We wonder, though, if McCain's new position will make for even feistier kitchen-table conversations at his family's home in Los Angeles?

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Associated Press