Cornyn defends NRSC decision to endorse Crist over Rubio for Florida Senate seat

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Don’t expect the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) to rescind its endorsement of Gov. Charlie Crist for Florida’s Senate seat.

“I’m honor-bound to leave it as it is,” NRSC chairman Sen. John Cornyn said of the endorsement Monday morning during a meeting with reporters at the committee’s headquarters.

Last spring, the NRSC threw its support behind Crist, who according to polls is in a losing battle against the momentum of Marco Rubio’s insurgent campaign in the Republican primary.

Cornyn defended the endorsement as “selfish.” After meeting with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who opted out of running for the seat, he said Crist was seen as “the ideal candidate” because he’s a good fundraiser.

“I didn’t want to have to spend any money in Florida if we didn’t have to,” he said.

Still, Cornyn said the endorsement “had nothing to do with Marco Rubio,” and that if Rubio wins the primary, he has every reason to believe he will beat Democrat Rep. Kendrick Meek in the general election.

Back in May, Cornyn said, “while I believe Marco Rubio has a very bright future within the Republican party, Charlie Crist is the best candidate in 2010 to ensure that we maintain the checks and balances that Floridians deserve in the United States Senate.”

Tea Party activists have hailed Rubio as a hero. Cornyn, asked his thoughts on the grassroots movement, said “Republicans should try to channel that energy into our races” and take advantage of independents who “hate” President Obama’s health-care bill.

“Third parties are not a good thing,” he said.

Cornyn admitted that today’s political climate is “different than 1994,” but said he’d be open to some type of “Contract with America” listing Republican legislative promises.

He brought up a recent Tea Party proposal, organized by Tea Party Patriots, called the “Contract from America” that differs from Newt Gingrich’s 1994 document in that it is a list of legislative proposals developed by people and given to legislators, instead of the other way around.

“It really needs to be a reflection of what the voters want,” Cornyn said of a Republican contract, rather than topics of what Washington insiders want to “lecture” people on.