Gov. Crist on McCain Benefiting From Democrat Infighting

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," April 23, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, CO-HOST: Clinton's big win last night makes for at least another two weeks of the Democrats battling it out, and that means John McCain may be sitting pretty watching the bitter in-fighting from the sidelines as he amps up his own game plan for November, so with more chaos for the Democrats, is McCain the real winner already? McCain backer, Florida's Governor Charlie Crist is here. He is also, we're told, on the short list to be McCain's vice president. Governor, good evening.

GOVERNOR CHARLIE CRIST, R-FLA.: How are you? Good to see you, Megyn.

KELLY: Thanks for being here with us. We appreciate it.

CRIST: It's my pleasure, as always.

KELLY: All right. So what about that? He's — these two continue to fight. Hillary Clinton says she's not getting out at any time soon. She's making that perfectly clear. How good is this for John McCain?

CRIST: I think it is great for Senator McCain. As you heard, he was very gracious today in congratulating Senator Clinton on her win in Pennsylvania last night, my birthday, by the way, but I think the victory, a 10-point victory is significant and substantial and I think that Senator Clinton certainly has a strong argument to keep going forward. It's a very com competitive race on the Democratic side. Time will tell what happens but it's on to Guam, I guess, this Saturday and then Indiana and then North Carolina thereafter. I mean that, race continues and it's a good competition.

KELLY: Governor, you're a Republican. It's no secret that you're supporting John McCain, and in fact, on the short list, as I mentioned. How good is this for you? Do you sit back and say yeah, keep it going when you hear Hillary Clinton saying I'm going all the way through, we'll take it to the convention if we have to? Do you delight in hearing that, because you see it as a benefit to the GOP?

CRIST: I think it's great. I think it's a benefit to the people of America. Competition is what made this country great. I think the continued competition in the Democratic primary is important. The only angst that I have, to be honest with you, Megyn is that I want to make sure they count Florida vote January 29 that was held. We had a record turnout in the Democratic and Republican primaries.

KELLY: But they're not going to.

CRIST: I don't know about that.

KELLY: They're not decided .

CRIST: I'm not so sure. I don't know.

KELLY: What possible way could they get Florida counted at this point?

CRIST: Well, they could just say we're going to count it and I think that's exactly the right thing to do. People talk to us all the time about not just disenfranchising voters and maybe it seems a little odd that I'm a Republican governor yet I'm advocating for the Democratic votes to be counted. But when you get sworn in as governor of a state, you're governor for all the people. And I want John McCain to be our next president but I also want all the Florida votes to count. We had a big issue before. It doesn't look good for the Democratic National Committee. I think they need to do the right thing and count the votes.

KELLY: Exactly. And as I said, as a result of that, it doesn't look good you for. Let me ask you this. Might McCain suffered from the Rudy Giuliani factor? Remember Giuliani didn't campaign anywhere. Leaving it to Iowa. He is off the front pages. No one is thinking about him, no one is talking about him. Is that what is maybe happening to John McCain as we focus on the Democrats for the next couple of weeks or months?

CRIST: No, I don't think so at all. In fact, as you reported earlier, before we came on, Senator McCain is working hard in some places that presidential candidates haven't worked in a long time. He is taking the time to visit Selma, Alabama this week, he has gone to Kentucky, rural Kentucky and Appalachia and some of these places that have been forgotten and to his great credit, particularly as a Republican, he is reaching out. This is a man who understands what people care about, what they feel, where there heart is. And because of his integrity and his energy, he is doing exactly that, and he is talking about trying to reduce gas prices, cutting the gas tax at the federal level. We're trying to do the same thing here in Florida.

KELLY: He is not leaving any votes unturned. Let's put it that way. Let me ask you quickly before you go. I know you are not going to tell me whether you have discussed the vice presidential candidacy with him. Do you want it? Just be honest. Tell us. Give it to us straight? Do you want it?

CRIST: What I want to do is have Senator McCain be our next president.

KELLY: Oh, come on.

CRIST: What I'm continuing to do for now is fight for Florida and make sure we pay our teachers more and that we get health insurance for all our Floridians that don't have it now.

KELLY: You are good. You are smooth, governor. We appreciate it. If you get it, call us.

CRIST: You're kind. Thank you, Megyn.

KELLY: Thanks so much for being here. Governor Charlie Crist, always a good sport.

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