Well, the battle is joined in the quest for the title of “True Conservative” in Florida’s Republican Senate primary. Charlie Crist, stung by recent criticism concerning his opportunism, lack of conservatism, and man-hug of President Obama, has sent his supporters forth to cast Marco Rubio, Crist’s primary opponent, in the image and likeness of Crist himself- as a dreaded “Republican In Name Only”- and someone who is much more of a convenient conservative than a consistent one. But are the accusations made by Crist’s boosters true? A piece in this Sunday’s St. Petersburg Times – Rubio record diverges from campaign rhetoric quotes several Crist supporters who have plumbed the depths of the public record to supposedly prove that Rubio’s conservatism isn’t nearly as consistent as Rubio claims that it is. But had the writers of the Times’ piece simply taken the time to read their own newspaper and do a little fact-checking of their own, they’d find that each of the points made by Crist’s supporters have been explicitly contradicted by facts that were previously been published in – you guessed it- the St. Petersburg Times.
The Crist campaign strategy is becoming clearer by the day – get as many “yes-men” as possible to go on the record- while maintaining a straight face at the same time- and frame the primary race as a contest between two moderate Republicans with comparable records, rather than as a contest between an Establishment Republican and a Consistent Conservative.
Consider the following assertions made in the Times article:
“He was a big disappointment to us when he was the speaker,” said NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer, who saw Rubio do little to help pass a bill allowing employees to bring guns to work. “He talked the talk, but he didn’t walk the walk.”- St. Pete Times 11/8/09
Not so fast, Mrs. M. (c) Hammer! Rubio was a staunch supporter of the Gun rights bill (HB 503) that sailed through the house and became law. “Guns at work” bill- ST. Pete Times
I would have loved to have been the fly on wall in Ms. Hammer-time’s office when Governor Crist picked Liberal Circuit Court judge James Perry to the Florida Supreme Court this past year. How many rounds were fired in her office when she got wind that Crist had selected Perry? After all, Judge Perry’s nomination was opposed by the Florida Family Council, Florida Right to Life and , you guess it, the NRA itself! Gov. Crist names Judge James Perry to Supreme Court, despite conservative opposition-St. Pete Times 3/12/09
And then there’s this gem that was somehow overlooked by the Times’ writers:
“Rubio, the young Republican speaker from Miami, has been a particular disappointment…Rubio would have had more success if he had learned from Crist’s populism and willingness to compromise instead of clinging to the hard-edged conservatism of his mentor, former Gov. Jeb Bush.” (Editorial, St. Petersburg Times, 4/27/08)
So in April of 2008, Rubio was too conservative who needed more sunny populism, and was too-hard-edged a conservative. But in November of 2009, Marco was simply a big disappointment to conservatives, just talking the talk, but not walking the walk. Got it.
But wait, there’s another dubious charge–
“Rubio has criticized Crist for seeking a gambling accord with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. But a House speaker can kill any legislation he wishes, and Rubio stood by as his chamber pursued the largest expansion of gambling in more than 15 years.” St. Pete Times 11/8/09
This doesn’t even come close to passing the smell test, since it was Rubio himself who won a lawsuit overturning Governor Crist’s agreement with the Seminole Indian Tribe that would have allowed gambling at it’s casinos. See House leader wants to shut down gambling at Seminole casinos-St. Pete Times.
Perhaps the Governor needs to concern himself more with Senator LeMieux’s possibly illegal actions that brought the gaming deal with the Indians together. By the way, isn’t there a law on the books that specifically states that the casino game,blackjack, is illegal in the state of Florida?
Finally, there’s this:
“He bashes Crist for pushing a cap-and-trade program to lower greenhouse emissions, but Rubio voted for the bill that specifically declared that the Legislature wants the state to pursue market-based strategies such as cap-and-trade.”-St. Pete Times 11/8/09
Well, this is very interesting since it was Crist himself looked to implement a Left-coast style cap-and-trade system here in the Sunshine State. Crist got on board with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cap-and trade system from the right from the get-go, and Crist had yet another one of his memorable press conferences with Ahh-nuld to launch the initiative. Crist unveils greener future-St. Pete Times Now that the popularity of cap-and-trade is sinking faster than Charlie’s poll numbers, the Governor has conveniently postponed his 3rd climate change summit in four months. So much for Gov. Green: Crist postpones 3rd climate change summit (but asks sponsors for campaign cash)-St. Pete Times
In the months leading up to next year’s primary election, we can expect to see more of these lackluster attacks and misleading stunts by Charlie and his acolytes. The more the record is closely examined, the clearer it becomes just who is the true conservative in this race, and who is being candid about their record. So let’s dive into the archives, and let’s go to videotape! Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we wouldn’t want anything other than an honest examination of the complete record. Right, Governor Crist?
The Crist campaign has tried and failed in its attempt to stem the growing popularity of the Marco Rubio for Senate campaign. Word to the wise- next time you feel like doing your laundry, make sure you use separate the whites from the colors, and don’t forget the detergent.