Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich may see himself as a Marco Rubio figure in Florida, but the freshman senator beloved by the tea party isn’t backing him up on that.
While campaigning this week in the Sunshine State, Gingrich compared the battle he’s in with rival Mitt Romney to Rubio’s 2010 Senate primary race against then-Gov. Charlie Crist.
Rubio was viewed as the conservative insurgent of the race, with Crist seen as the moderate Republican. Crist later dropped out of the GOP primary to run as an independent.
On Tuesday, Gingrich made light of how one of his aides worked for Rubio in 2010.
“He was Marco Rubio’s campaign manager,” Gingrich said. “We discovered last night that Mitt Romney has picked up Charlie Crist’s campaign people. That sort of tells you everything you needed to know about this contest.”
Gingrich has been making the case that he’s a true conservative, while Romney is a “Massachusetts moderate.”
But Rubio, who has not yet endorsed in the race, disagreed.
“Mitt Romney is no Charlie Crist,” Rubio said in response. “Romney is a conservative, and he was one of the first national Republican leaders to endorse me. He came to Florida, campaigned hard for me, and made a real difference in my race.”
Then on Wednesday, Rubio again took issue with something Gingrich said.
The Miami Herald’s Marc Cuputo reported that Rubio was not pleased with an ad run by the Gingrich campaign in Spanish saying the former Massachusetts governor is “anti-immigrant.”
“This kind of language is more than just unfortunate,” Rubio told The Miami Herald. “It’s inaccurate, inflammatory, and doesn’t belong in this campaign.”