- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, is distancing himself from President Obama after months of criticism for supporting the president’s $862 billion jobs stimulus plan.

Mr. Crist said Tuesday he disagrees with Mr. Obama’s decision to cancel a major NASA space-exploration program because it will cost Florida roughly 7,000 high-tech, high-paying jobs.

“I’m disappointed, frankly,” he told The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” radio show. “NASA is important to Florida and all of America.”

Mr. Obama has made the cultivating of high-tech jobs a major part of his plan to help the United States recover from the recession that started in December 2007 and has resulted in the loss of 8.5 million jobs.

However, his most recent budget did not include funding for the agency’s Constellation program, which includes the Ares rocket designed to extend the manned flights now in outdated space shuttles.

Mr. Crist is trailing in polls to Marco Rubio, a former Florida House speaker who has won the support of conservatives.

The state primary is Aug. 24, and the general election is in November.

Mr. Crist said he has asked state lawmakers to include $32,000 in their next budget to help high-tech companies trying to work with NASA in Florida.

“We’re going to continue to fight for jobs for Florida,” he said.

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