Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, facing an uphill battle for the Republican nomination for the state’s U.S. Senate seat, defends himself against his opponent, Marco Rubio, by saying his rival is more like him than Rubio admits.
“If you thought he was different, look again,” the Crist campaign said of Rubio in a press release.
Rubio, a former speaker of the House in Florida, has largely used Crist’s support for President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package as evidence that Crist is a big government Republican. The darling of conservatives and Tea Party activists, recent polls show him as the front-runner against Florida’s governor.
On Wednesday, the Crist campaign sent around footage of Rubio saying had he been in Crist’s position, he too would’ve spent the stimulus funds. (Rubio told NBC’s Tampa affiliate WFLA that ‘Ultimately I would have accepted those portions of the money that would not have put Florida in a worse position off in the future than it is right now.’)
Crist’s campaign has jumped on the remarks, saying Rubio is not the conservative he says he is. But does that mean that Crist is saying supporters who thought Rubio was different than him are wrong? Is Crist admitting to being a big government Republican and in essence is saying Rubio is actually one too?
“The point was that Speaker Rubio is not who he says he is,” Crist spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg told The Daily Caller. “He attacks us for accepting stimulus funds that he too would have accepted.”
Just yesterday, Rubio held a rally in Florida, hosted by FreedomWorks PAC, to commemorate the one-year anniversary of “the hug,” the infamous moment when Crist embraced the popular, freshly installed President Obama in a public event about the stimulus, symbolizing Crist’s support for the funds loathed by conservatives.
In an online video, Rubio marks the anniversary saying the “stimulus package was designed to stimulate jobs in America, but it has miserably failed. In fact, the only thing it has stimulated is our national debt.”
Rubio launched a fundraising effort, a “Stimulus Bomb,” meant to raise $787,000 — a thousand dollars for every billion in the stimulus package.
Crist has shot back with charges of hypocrisy to Rubio, also bringing up the former speaker’s views on the census. Rubio has said that illegal immigrants in Florida should not be counted, though he has since pushed back.
Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos did not immediately return a request for comment.
The primary in Florida is set for Aug. 24.
Reporter Alex Pappas can be reached at email@example.com