ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. -- On the day after receiving the coveted endorsement of Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., John McCain received perhaps the most coveted Florida endorsement tonight: Gov. Charlie Crist.
"We have a lot of great people who are running for president this year who would all do well. But we have to think about when it comes to Tuesday who you're going to vote for and who you're going to support. ... I have to tell you that after thinking about it as much as I have, I don't think anybody would do better than the man who stands next to me, Senator John McCain," said Crist with McCain at his side.
Just in case he wasn't clear enough, Crist added "That's an endorsement" before leaving the stage.
McCain later said he was not a surprised but gratified.
"It means a lot in this race, let's be very candid. It will mean a great deal on Tuesday," he said.
McCain pledged to work with Crist on Florida-related issues saying, "I intend to work closely very with him on issues that he and I have discussed privately and the ones that I have discussed tonight. We've got to provide home insurance for every person who lives in the path of a hurricane. We're going to have to work together to save the Everglades and the other great environmental treasures in this great state..."
Crist told reporters that even though it was a last-minute decision to publicly endorse McCain, he felt it was the right thing to do.
"I decided today. I just feel in my heart, he's the right man for the job. He's a great leader. He's an American hero and I am honored to stand with him," he said. "And I believe that he will win on Tuesday."
Crist's endorsement of McCain is another disappointment for Rudy Giuliani, who has spent the last few weeks campaigning in Florida and heavily courted Crist's support.