In a scathing op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times on the eve of the GOP convention, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist created the second biggest storm on Florida’s shores next to Hurricane Issac. According to Crist:
But an element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they’ve proven incapable of governing for the people. Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims. The truth is that the party has failed to demonstrate the kind of leadership or seriousness voters deserve.
Crist’s words echo that of Sen. Olympia Snowe, who was essentially run out of office by Republican extremists and Tea Party types. According to Jonathan Weisman’s March story in the New York Times:
Georgia Chomas, a cousin of the senator who described herself as more like a sister, said social conservatives and Tea Party activists in Maine were hounding her at home, while party leaders in Washington had her hemmed in and steered the legislative agenda away from the matters she cared about.
“There was a constant, constant struggle to accommodate everyone, and a lot of pressure on her from the extreme right,” Ms. Chomas said from her real estate office in Auburn, Me. “And she just can’t go there.”
Mike Castle, a former moderate Republican House member from Delaware and a friend of Ms. Snowe and her husband, expressed a similar view.
“All of a sudden we’re talking about abortion. We’re talking about contraception. We’re talking about social issues that were not that big a deal,” said Mr. Castle, who lost his 2010 Senate bid to a Tea Party insurgency during the primary.
“Senator Snowe wants to focus on bringing down the deficit and getting the economy on track, and that’s where the priorities should be,” said Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, another moderate who served with Ms. Snowe in the Senate before leaving the Republican Party.
It seems the Republican Big Tent is shrinking so fast that there will soon only be room for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and two Super Size sodas that he hid from New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg.