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Bense: Crist endorsement of McCain is great for Romney up here in the Panhandle

Former House Speaker Allan Bense suggested on a Mitt Romney conference call that Gov. Charlie Crist's backing of John McCain is helping... Romney. At least in Florida's conservative Panhandle.

"Since the endorsement last night I got 47 phone calls to my cell phone and home cell, either wanting to get (Romney) campaign signs or how to get to the rally that Gov. Romney will attend," Bense said. "I think we're conservative in this part of the world."

Minutes later, Bense corrected himself, "in fact, my wife just said it's 48 calls,'' he said. "There's just concern about it, this is a very conservative part of the state and there's been some concern whether or not this is a conservative ticket McCain is running or a moderate."

Bense also went out of his way to mention the case of Martin Lee Anderson the 14-year-old who died after he was beaten by guards at a state juvenile justice facility. Crist settled the case with the family before the guards were tried -- and found not guilty. That upset a number of white conservatives in the Panama City area, which was sundered amid the publicity and trial in the caught-on-tape beating case.

"Martin Lee Anderson," Bense said. "Generally speaking, that one case was so high-profile. Folks just getting over it."