Florida Republicans cast blame as McCain trails in polls | MiamiHerald.com John McCain's plunging poll numbers in Florida have top Republicans second-guessing and starting to distance themselves from the campaign. BY MARY ELLEN KLAS AND MARC CAPUTO meklas@MiamiHerald.com For the first time in more than a decade, Florida Republicans are considering the almost unthinkable: Their presidential nominee could lose the state. The economy, an unpopular president, a strong opponent, and the inability of John McCain to reverse poll numbers despite repeatedly revising his strategy has top state Republicans looking for someone to blame. ''There are a lot of folks who have never been in a foxhole before and are clearly nervous,'' said Brian Ballard, a major McCain fundraiser. ``There is some finger-pointing going on a little bit too soon.'' Even Gov. Charlie Crist, who helped deliver Florida for McCain during the primary, said he will spend the final weeks before Election Day minding the state's weak economy rather than campaigning for the Arizona senator. ''When I have time to help, I'll try to do that,'' Crist said last week, after he flew around the state with McCain running mate Sarah Palin. Saturday, he skipped a McCain football rally and instead went to Disney World. Once considered a potential running mate, Crist had pledged to do all he could for McCain and spent several days this summer campaigning for the Republican nominee in and outside Florida. He faults the tough economic times for McCain's difficult time in Florida, where he trails rival Barack Obama by about 5 percentage points in the polls. No Republican has won the White House in modern times without carrying Florida. The last to lose the state was McCain's former colleague, Sen. Bob Dole, in 1996. Some Republicans say the state party hasn't done enough, while others blame McCain's national campaign.