CRIST TO GIVE STIMULUS A P.R. BOOST…. It was just a few months ago that Charlie Crist, Florida’s Republican governor, hoped to give John McCain a boost in the Sunshine State. Tomorrow, Crist will lend Barack Obama a hand.

Republican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will introduce President Obama tomorrow at a Florida town hall meeting plugging the stimulus plan.

Crist was one of 19 governors, including four Republicans, to release a joint letter publicly urging Congress to to [sic] pass the president’s stimulus package — a move that earned him an appreciative phone call from Obama.

The Florida governor has said he wants to help Obama push for the measure. The bill is currently being considered by the Senate after failing to draw GOP support in the House.

“Florida has taken prudent steps to cut taxes for our people and balance our budget in these increasingly difficult times,” Crist said in a statement released by the White House Monday. “Any attempts at federal stimulus must prioritize job creation and targeted tax relief for small business owners. I am eager to welcome President Obama to the Sunshine State as he continues to work hard to reignite the US economy.”

Given all the talk about Republicans in D.C. slapping away Obama’s outstretched hand, Crist breaking with his party on this major issue is a pretty big deal. Crist is, after all, the governor of a large state, is widely considered a “rising star” in Republican politics, and was considered for the Republican presidential ticket just last year. And yet, here he is, siding with Obama and against practically every Republican in Congress. (Florida’s Republican senator and 15 Republican House members all rejected the stimulus package.)

Yes, Crist’s support isn’t new, in light of the joint letter he recently signed, but tomorrow will carry far more political weight: “It makes the president look bipartisan, and it makes the congressional GOP look like they’re off on the fringe, too extreme even for senior elected officials in their own party.”

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.