by Javier ManjarresOrlando- The second debate in the race to become the next Senator from the State of Florida between Congressman Kendrick Meek, Governor Charlie Crist and Speaker Marco Rubio quickly turned into an all out assault on the frontrunner, Marco Rubio. The debate went negative right from the beginning as Governor Crist, the former GOP and now Independent candidate said that he was going to “crash the Tea Party.” Rubio, looking tired from the rigors of the relentless campaigning, stuck to game plan by reiterating that he is the only one in the race that would stand up to Obama agenda- a clear contrast between the three since it was Crist who embraced the Obama “Stimulus Plan” and the fact that Meek sees completely eye-to-eye with President Barack H. Obama.
Congressman Meek continued to tear into Rubio on his ‘extreme’ views, and even evoked Darth Vader (aka former Vice President Dick Cheney) in an attempt to align Rubio with the Bush Administration. Meek then turned on Governor Crist by reminding viewers that Crist believes that Social Security could be saved by granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Crist also leaned on Rubio by accusing him of padding Legislative bills with personal ‘pork’ projects while he was the Speaker of the House. Rubio then lashed back at Crist and called him a liar for distorting the truth about his allegations and defined Congressman Meek as being one of President Obama’s and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lap pooches. Rubio did take some swipes at both Crist and Meek in his rebuttal, but could have pushed a little bit more and hit a little bit harder.
In regards to the Obama Stimulus, Rubio referred to it as ” a massive failure”, and then tied the stimulus around Crist’s neck by pointing out that since he has been Governor, unemployment has risen in Florida to 11.7% . Crist defended the plan by saying that it saved thousands of jobs and that it was the “right thing to do”. Crist also came up with a great zinger when he told Rubio, “you’ve been drinking too much tea”.
Meek caught everyone’s attention when he said that, “tax cuts for small businesses create jobs.” Come again? Congressman Meek doesn’t seem to grasp the issue, as his most of his Party favors increasing taxes, and Meek was clearly using empty rhetoric in an attempt to sound more friendly to business. Regarding taxes, Crist straight out fibbed when he said he “never voted for a single tax.” Remember that cigarette tax hike you signed earlier this year, Charlie?Congressman Meek proudly touted the fact that he is the only Pro-Choice candidate in the race and criticized Governor Crist for flip-flopping on his position on abortion, we referred to the Governor as the “Governor George Wallace of Abortion.” Meek’s criticism of Crist is accurate because Crist has changed his position and has admitted to be Pro-Life. Governor Crist’s statement that he is both “Pro-Life” and “Pro-Woman” is confusing to say the least. Can Crist credibly say that he is still Pro-Life, but also believes in a woman’s right to choose? Governor Crist may like to have it both ways, but on this issue he can’t.
Congressman Meek had to come out swinging and needed to show Democrats that he is their candidate, and in that regard he did well. Meek also criticized Crist for changing positions and “bailing out of the Republican primary” with Rubio where he would have lost badly. Meek repeatedly referred to Rubio as being a ‘Rightwing’ ideologue and described Governor Crist as a “wet paper box” when it came to the issues. Rubio needed to stick to his message and define Meek and Crist for who they are and what they represent- Meek the Liberal Democrat, and Crist the consummate opportunist politician, which he accomplished. Rubio also scored points by reminding voters to vote for either Meek or Crist if they were in any way content with the direction the country is headed in. However, Rubio did allow Meek and Crist have success in defining him as being a ‘Tea Party’ Republican.
In the final analysis Rubio was successful in sticking to his message and made no major gaffes; Crist tried to be all things to all people and did not offer any substantive solutions; and Congressman Meek did very well for his cause, as he went after both his opponents and scored the best “zingers” of the evening.