Marco Rubio doesn’t mention Tea Party in victory speech

Marco Rubio’s path to winning the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Florida would not have been possible without the ardent backing of Tea Party activists. But you wouldn’t know that by listening to his victory speech Tuesday night.

The Republican candidate, who easily won the GOP nomination Tuesday and will face independent Gov. Charlie Crist and Democrat Rep. Kendrick Meek in November, thanked his wife, his parents and God during his victory speech. But he did not mention the Tea Party or thank the grassroots activists specifically.

Does this mean Marco Rubio’s general election strategy includes cooling down his Tea Party rhetoric?

“Marco Rubio owes his position to the Tea Party, the 9/12 groups and the other grassroots groups,” said Robin Stublen, a Tea Party activist who founded the Punta Gorda Tea Party in Florida. He said the notion that Rubio is moderating his Tea Party speak is “100 percent correct,” though admitted he still fully supports the Tea Party-backed insurgent.

In the Sunshine State’s unique general election this cycle — that includes a serious independent challenge — Rubio’s strategy is obvious: win over enough votes of moderate Republicans and independents who might be drawn to Crist while keeping the Tea Party energy on his side. Crist, the early front-runner, left the GOP to run as an independent in the race after Rubio became a Tea Party darling.

A New York Times reporter recently traveled with Rubio as he campaigned on the Florida panhandle and penned a profile of the former state House speaker, writing that Rubio “is trying to show that he is more than just an insurgent protest candidate—and he is breaking with some Tea Party orthodoxy in the process.”

Rubio’s campaign did not respond to multiple requests to interview Rubio or return requests to describe the campaign’s strategy going into the general election. Yet the always-on-message Rubio projected himself Tuesday night as a measured politician focused on presenting GOP alternatives, rather than as an angry Tea Partier without any ideas. “I am not running to be the opposition…I believe there is a better way to do things,” he said.

While other grassroots, conservative backed candidates have appeared to embrace the Tea Party label, Rubio often dodges the question of whether he considers himself a Tea Partier. Asked the question recently, he said, “I think there is a real misunderstanding about what the Tea Party movement is. The Tea Party movement is a sentiment in America that government is broken – both parties are to blame – and if we don’t do something soon, this exceptional country will be lost and it will become just like everybody else.”

He also, for example, has been non-committal about whether he’d join a Tea Party caucus in the Senate if elected.

Perhaps it’s an effective strategy, as Democrats have not been able to successfully portray him as outside the mainstream like they have done with other Republican Senate candidates this election cycle, like Sharron Angle in Nevada, Rand Paul in Kentucky and Ken Buck in Colorado.

But, at the same time, he’s certainly not abandoning the message that attracted the grassroots activists to his campaign. In his speech Tuesday night he told the assembled crowd that, “If you like the direction that America is headed, if you think Washington is doing the right thing, then there are two other people on the ballot and you should go for one of them.”

  • AlexZ

    When are the Tea Party folk gonna get a clue that Rubio is a hypocrite and they are being used? He pledges to cut spending, but when Rubio was state House speaker, his budget was loaded with m $250 million worth of pork during his first term alone. Governor Charlie Crist vetoed $459 million from Rubio’s budget — more than has ever been vetoed in the entire history of the state. Who’s the real fiscal conservative?

  • Mallie

    The Tea Party does not have to be mentioned! GET OVER IT MY FELLOW TEA PARTY ACTIVISTS!!! IT ISN’T ABOUT US! It’s about getting the right person in office! You would ditch a fine man like Marco Rubio because he didn’t mention the Tea Party? What are you thinking???

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Arnone/1664784296 Richard Arnone

    I think we are losing sight of what this is all about. I have been active in the Tea Party in order to get the right people elected. I don’t care if the Tea Party gets credit or not. I care about what is right for the country. I see no reason to be concerned because Rubio, who must get votes from all quarters to win, plays down his Tea Party association a little.

    • theprofessor

      Very, very well said. Kudos.

  • independentvoter

    BIG MISTAKE.. Better correct it and FAST before NOVEMBER.. ever seen anyone lose to a WRITE IN CANDIDATE?? boy would THAT be an embarrassment to him..

  • mcgirv

    Hey Rubio don’t disparage the Tea Party! Don’t be a schmuck!

  • latinsforpeace

    Forget Rubio, Crist, and Meeks. The real Tea-Party candidate is Snitker…

    Snitker Congratulates, Warns Rubio and Meek

    BROOKSVILLE, FLORIDA – Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Alex Snitker had words of congratulations — and words of warning — for tonight’s Republican and Democrat Senate primary election winners. “I’d like to congratulate both Marco Rubio and Kendrick Meek for winning their respective primaries,” said Snitker.

    As expected, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio has apparently won in a landslide over a handful of lesser know GOP challengers, while Democrat Kendrick Meek prevailed in a relatively close battle with billionaire Jeff Greene.

    In addition to congratulations, Snitker also was quick to issue a challenge to his competition. “I look forward to open debates between me, Rubio, Meek and Crist,” said Snitker. “You’ve enjoyed the luxury of avoiding me during your primary battles; however, all bets are now off. Gentlemen, this is now officially a four-way race, and I am in it to win.”

    The outspoken Libertarian says that he is the true tea party candidate, and has accused Rubio being “afraid” to debate him on the issues. In a recent press release, the Snitker campaign accused Rubio of cancelling several speaking engagements after learning that Snitker would also be there, most recently on August 21st at the U.S. Constitution Freedom Rally in Fort Walton Beach.

    While many pundits continue to call Florida’s Senate race a three-way contest, Snitker has been busy pulling votes from all three of the better known candidates. Snitker has only received a fraction of the media coverage of the major party Senate hopefuls, but his poll numbers may turn out to be a big factor in the November 2nd general election.

    Snitker is showing support at 3-5% depending on the poll. According to a poll released today by Public Policy Polling, Snitker is in a statistical dead heat with Kendrick Meek among 18-29 year old voters.

    What most surprising is that he has achieved this with a war chest of only $35,000, compared to the millions of dollars spent by his rivals.

    “This is a race between three career politicians who are tainted with corruption, and a one regular man who will uphold and defend the Constitution,” said Adrian Wyllie, Snitker’s media director. “Alex believes that it is our duty to restore our Republic to what our Founders envisioned.”

    Snitker is considered by many to be the most consistent Constitutional conservative in the race. But he also enjoys considerable Democrat support due to his non-interventionist foreign policy and belief that the federal government should stay out of the personal lives of individuals.

    • rainmaker1145

      This was a huge mistake by Rubio – his first big one and now Snitker has a chance to ruin Rubio’s coalition. I guess Rubio thinks that suckling on the teet of the corrupt GOP pig will wean him sufficiently that he can afford to dismiss us.

      We’ll see.

      • theprofessor

        Sorry, but if the tea party people are so fickle that they will turn against their self-proclaimed “set in stone” principles just because they didn’t get mentioned in a speech, then don’t be surprised if people begin to wonder if the Tea Partiers are after changes in government or just popularity.

    • AlexZ

      I guarantee you that Mickey Mouse will get more write-ins than Snitker.

  • coachpan

    Just have this feeling that Marco may not be the “real deal”. Keep an eye on him!

    • Unbelievable

      Oh Marco’s the real deal… He’ll do Floridians proud!

      It’s Crist’s that’s NOT the real deal. He’s nothing but a narcissistic idiot. Only an narcissist like Crist would leave his constiuents drowning in floods while he attends his fancy elitist dinner party.

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  • des1

    I will never understand why the media (even people that are more or less fair) insist on portraying the Tea Party as Right Wing. Every survey shows that it is made up of people from all over the political spectrum. They don’t even talk about social issues. So all they are for is limited government.

    Since when is smaller government a “far-Right” idea?

    • shepmoors

      You are right. There is no actual tea “party.” It is a wide variety of people who are interested in reigning in reckless spending, over-regulation and stopping the move toward a country totally dependent upon government. It just seems like there are those in the media who are looking to somehow weaken candidates like Rubio by trying to divide his supporters. It will not work.

    • kaj

      I guess since I’ve never heard any liberal support the smaller government plank then it must be a “far-Right” idea. 😉 But then we know the liberal side has never had any good ideas.

    • rainmaker1145

      The Regime has its eye on you and will not tolerate this counter-revolutionary behavior. Repent now or we will be forced to send you to a re-education center. We believe in free choice so you can choose between “tax camp”, “socialism camp”, “spending camp”, “dependence camp”, “race card camp” or “big government camp”. In your case I will recommend to Comrade General-Secretary Obamalev that you be sentenced to big government camp for a term of 10 years and then build mosques and IEDs for Muslim charities via a 10-year stint in Americorps.

    • Kerrvillian

      Anything that the liberals don’t like is “far-right”. It really has no meaning anymore. Less so than the word “racist”.

      Example: I don’t like Brussel Sprouts, they are so far-right.

    • theprofessor

      You’re looking for logic where there is none. The media prints what “sells” and demonizing the right wing sells.

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