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Crist makes it official

From NBC's Mark Murray
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist just announced that he's running for the U.S. Senate as a candidate without affiliation -- that is, as an independent.

"Our political system is broken," he said. "They look at Washington and they don't like what they see." 

He added that he doesn't have a Republican Party or Democratic Party to turn to. "I need you -- the people -- more than ever. I am counting on you. And I believe in you."

*** UPDATE *** Here is the reaction to Crist's decision.

DSCC Chairman Bob Menendez: "Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio are the two latest casualties of a divided Republican Party cannibalizing itself. As usual, Charlie Crist is putting his political ambition first and Marco Rubio is threatening to impose his extreme philosophical agenda. Meanwhile, Kendrick Meek will continue to be a hands-on leader, focused on improving Florida's economy and bringing jobs to the state."

RNC Chairman Michael Steele: "To be sure, he left this party. This party did not leave him. His decision will in no way impede our path to victory in Florida. The challenges that Floridians face are many. And this November, we will have a nominee in place that will listen to them and put forth solutions to get Floridians back to work."

Crist's GOP pollster Glen Bolger: "Governor Crist's decision has been ceaselessly speculated on in recent weeks. Despite his difficulties in the Republican primary, we were loyally working for him as long as he was a Republican. With his announcement that he is not running as a Republican, we will no longer be involved."