The Republicans just can't win on the Schiavo issue.
Government intrusion and political grandstanding by the right mired the young woman's last days in controversy that will haunt the party like Willie Horton haunted Dukakis.
Terri's dad, Robert Schindler, Sr. practically charged Crist with murder, citing the Attorney General "refused to properly execute the duties of his office." (Mr. Schindler, the AG tends to turn a blind eye to any controversial issue running rampant through the State of Florida). He can't claim "tough on crime" in this case and nicey-nice himself out of this one. The man distanced himself on Schiavo in an attempt to remain squeaky-clean while planning his bid for Governor.
Husband Michael Schiavo, founder of TerriPAC, is campaigning for Democrats to help fight a government that overreaches into individual freedoms. Conservative husbands surprised Republicans with the support for Terri's husband. The message sent stated plain and simple. Government. Stay out of our family decisions. Sray out of our business.
Rod Smith, Democratic candidate for Florida's governor, joined a bipartisan coalition to block government intrusion into the Schiavo case. One can bet Schiavo will certainly be an issue in this race, especially if Smith-husband, father, and grandfather-wins the Democratic nomination and is pitted against bachelor Republican nominee Charlie Crist.
And old Jebbie Bush. Terri will haunt that man the rest of his political life.
For that, I wish to thank her.
Critics are trying to paint those statements as proof Crist isn't the true conservative in the race, a charge he scoffs at.
"I've been conservative all my life," Crist says. "The people have an understanding of who has never supported a new tax increase, who's always been strong on law enforcement, who it is that believes that school choice is important for all of our citizens, who has always supported the Second Amendment."
But as the primary election nears, religious backers of Gallagher want to put another name before their base: Terri Schiavo.
For eight years, Florida's religious base has had a governor who aired his religious convictions publicly, never more obviously than during the tense standoffs over whether to allow the brain-damaged Schiavo to die.
Religious conservatives like Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, feel Crist was noticeably absent from the public stage at a critical period for the "values voter" base as the Schiavo saga played out nationally.
Crist has said he didn't support state intervention in Schiavo's case.
And Schiavo's father, Robert Schindler Sr., has accused Crist of letting his daughter die.
"Things like the Terri Schiavo case, I think they don't matter that much to the people who thought we were wrong. They matter very deeply to the people who thought we were right," says Baxley, who pushed the House bill to block the removal of her feeding tube.