Crist didn't fit with NASCAR; how about yoga?

Cox NewspapersJuly 8, 2014 

NASCAR Crist Race Car

On Thursday, the NASCAR No. 98 Ford of Josh Wise featured a decal bearing the name of Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist. On Friday, the Crist decals on the car were removed. ASSOCIATED PRESS

NIGEL COOK — AP

WEST PALM BEACH -- It was a good move to remove Charlie Crist's name from a NASCAR vehicle.

Last weekend, driver Josh White's No. 98 Ford in the Coke Zero 400 NASCAR race in Daytona Beach had been wrapped in artwork proclaiming "Charlie Crist for Florida 2014" in big bold letters on the hood and rear quarter-panel.

But before the car hit the track for Sunday's race, Crist's name got removed, eliminating what was surely a reckless and foolish idea. And I'm not just talking about the complaints from the Republican Party of Florida that the car advertisement may have constituted a violation of campaign contribution limits.

I'm talking about the potential danger.

It's not hard to see why Crist would be tempted to advertise in the NASCAR event. Nearly 100,000 spectators show up for the race, which is also televised nationally on the TNT network.

And the urbane and cosmopolitan Crist probably does better with "soccer moms" than "socket wrench dads." So some strategist could have told him that this was a great way to reach out to the NASCAR voters.

But pairing up Crist's political fortunes with a NASCAR race only invites unhelpful comparisons.

For starters, all the cars in a NASCAR race travel in the same direction for the entire 160 laps.

And while it's true that the cars have to keep turning left on every lap to survive, they don't embody the sort of free-wheeling changes of direction that Crist has been willing to do during his political life.

In NASCAR races, a car's position is vitally important. It must always move in a tight pack, where small movements either way can be catastrophic.

Crist is all about turning the wheel as if he is the only guy on the track.

Imagine how unsettling it would have been for other NASCAR drivers to find themselves next to the Charlie Crist car. You've got to figure that at any moment the Crist car might just spin out and experiment by zooming around the track in the opposite direction.

It could have ruined the whole race.

If you're going to put Crist's name on a vehicle, it needs to be done more safely.

For example, a Zamboni machine would be a fitting vehicle for Crist.

Like the Zamboni, which is used to resurface rinks after the ice gets chipped and slushy, Crist keeps moving back and forth, methodically covering every speck of the landscape in the role of Mr. Smooth.

But as a campaign tactic, reaching voters through Zamboni machine advertising is rather limited.

Crist would be better off finding a more universal recreational pursuit to plaster with his advertising.

Something like yoga.

The "Charlie Crist for Florida 2014" yoga mat would be both a fitting and strategic pairing.

In a Quinnipiac University poll done last month, Crist enjoyed a 19 percent lead over Gov. Rick Scott when it came to women voters.

People who practice yoga tend to be women. Crist could help cement his significant popularity with women by flooding gyms with free Charlie Crist yoga mats.

And unlike NASCAR, yoga has the sort of philosophy that dovetails nicely with the Crist campaign.

Yoga is all about giving in to powerful forces and finding ways to yield and stretch. Yoga instructors are always saying, "Let go."

Crist's political life is a series of decisions to let go of previous political positions, whether they be on abortion, offshore drilling, gun control, the minimum wage, or Obamacare. This is a man who knows how to let go.

His embrace of yoga could recast a history of political contradictions into a noble quest for greater enlightenment achieved by emptying the mind while moving in ways once considered unimaginable.

And it can be summarized nicely on a yoga mat:

"Charlie Crist for Florida 2014. Try not to think of anything. Just breathe."

Frank Cerabino, columnist for The Palm Beach Post, can be emailed at frank_cerabino@pbpost.com.

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