Charlie Crist Is NOT Gay

And other things the Republican Party wants you to believe on Election Day.

Since that day, Linn has gone on to tell half a dozen other media outlets the same thing, but no mainstream paper aside from the St. Petersburg Times has mentioned Linn's claims.

Linn says that Crist first told him he didn't prefer women in 1984 at a class run by the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. The second time, Linn says, was during Crist's unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1998. Linn says that during a private conversation, he asked Crist how he was going to handle "the gay issue."

"He said, 'You know what? No one's ever brought it up, and as long as no one's brought it up, I'm going to go on,'" Linn says Crist replied.

Lee De Cesare openly confronted Crist about his sexuality, while Tom Gallagher hoped hints would be enough.
Lee De Cesare openly confronted Crist about his sexuality, while Tom Gallagher hoped hints would be enough.

Crist has acknowledged that he was in the class with Linn in 1984 but denies having any conversation about his sexuality, saying that Linn is "misinformed" and "in desperate need of more attention."

Linn dismisses Crist's denials as Clintonian hair-splitting.

"People have asked him if he's gay, and he says no," he explains. "No one has ever asked if he's bisexual. No one has asked him: 'Have you had a romantic affair with a man?' He won't answer that. This was always an issue with Charlie. Everyone turns their heads the other way, including me for all those years. It's just like Foley."

While the mainstream press ignores Linn, the gay press has its own opinions about the Crist rumors.

At a recent conference of gay journalists held in Miami, Tom Dyer, the publisher of the gay newspaper that endorsed Crist, said the topic of Crist's orientation wasn't discussed much. "I think I heard somebody say something about it," Dyer says. "But I think the general reaction is that we don't think he's gay. It's his comfort level at the question. He's been asked many times, and he just says, 'No, I'm not.' He doesn't get defensive at all."

Gay leaders in Florida have all heard the rumors, and many believe that Crist is something other than straight. But the gay community also seems willing to live with a closeted gay man in office. And just as in the case of Republicans, the reasons behind their tolerance are pure politics.

"Anybody in the gay community who's working politically knows the policy nationally," Rusty Gordon, vice president of the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus, says about the rules of outing. "Unless the politician has done something to seriously harm the gay community, outing them is considered bigotry."

In other words, because Crist is moderate on gay issues, outing him is a form of gay-bashing. But if he ever turns his back on gays, he'll be fair game.

In the days after the Foley scandal, Crist's handlers scrambled to distance their man from the fallout. They debunked theories that Crist had been close with Foley, including a widespread rumor that the two men had once been roommates. They released policy statements designed to direct attention away from Crist's personal life. Crist's comments on the Foley scandal, which he was required as attorney general to investigate, were short and neutral.

But for the most part, the Crist machine is sticking to its original strategy: Don't let the rumors land. Throughout election season, the Crist campaign has refused to answer questions from reporters seeking to discuss Crist's sexuality. Kathryn Pemble, Crist's girlfriend, and Amanda Morrow, his ex-wife, don't return phone calls from reporters. And when Crist can't avoid the question, he answers it quickly and without elaboration: no.

The Crist campaign hopes it's enough to get them to Election Day.

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