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Crist meets with Hispanic caucus

State Rep. Juan Zapata, a West Kendall Republican and chairman of the Hispanic caucus, said Wednesday the group has a larger role to play now that there's a new governor - one who doesn't speak Spanish and doesn't have strong ties to the Hispanic community.

"We can be Gov. Charlie Crist's Hispanic network," Zapata said.

Crist, who met Wednesday with the caucus - all members of The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials - even asked for their help.

When members asked him to appoint more Hispanics to the bench, Crist said he needed them to help finding qualified applicants.

"It's a desire of mine to have a diverse bench - one that has African Americans and Hispanics," he said, adding that he needs slots to open first.

Crist also shared a couple light-hearted moments with caucus members.

When House Speaker Marco Rubio walked in, Crist welcomed him in Spanish, and Rubio quipped: "I knew you were bilingual."