PINELLAS PARK, Fla. – Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist decided Sunday to skip an appearance with President Bush in favor of crisscrossing the state in the final hours before Election Day .
Crist, the state attorney general, is in a close race with Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Davis to replace the president's brother, Gov. Jeb Bush , who can't seek re-election because of term limits.
Crist's chief of staff, George LeMieux, said that the decision to skip the Monday rally with Bush in Pensacola wasn't a snub of the president, but a choice to appear in seven other cities where Crist has a chance of gaining ground.
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"It's a big state. We need to be in all the places we need to be," LeMieux said. "It's because of the time and it's because there are some opportunities."
The attorney general's opponent, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, seized on the news, saying the president is one of the Republican's biggest supporters.
"And now that the president is so unpopular, Charlie refuses to stand side by side with him," Davis said. "It says when the going gets tough, Charlie won't stand up."
Crist appeared with the president in September, raising $3.3 million for the Florida election. LeMieux said the decision has nothing to do with Bush's poor approval numbers.
Crist planned to campaign Monday in St. Petersburg, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, Miami, West Palm Beach and Jacksonville.
A poll released Friday showed Crist with 50 percent of support among likely voters compared to Davis' 43 percent. The poll had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.