Marco Rubio’s long march is leaving Charlie Crist with no alternative but to go negative.
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While Charlie continues to get blue, Rubio’s campaign is still enjoying successes. His most recent coup was being chosen as the keynote speaker for the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference to be held in Washington in February.
“We chose Rubio because he’s an up and coming leader,” said CPAC Director Lisa de Pasquale. “He’s someone a lot of people are excited about.”
The three-day CPAC conference each year is probably the largest gathering of conservative officials, media, and money-types in the country. And the coveted opening day, 10 a.m. speaking slot is a plum. No better place or way for Rubio to put his conservative credentials before the conservative world. He joins a pretty select group of former CPAC speakers which include Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich, George Will, Tony Snow, and an obscure former western governor named Ronald Reagan.
With exposure through groups like CPAC, and the Club for Growth, which has endorsed Rubio, along with kind words from many of the nation’s leading conservative pundits and publications — George Will has flatly predicted Rubio will be Florida’ s next senator — Crist’s attempt to portray himself as the true conservative in this race appears to be Sisyphean.
If going negative on Rubio is a high-risk strategy, Crist might be better advised to consider actually putting together a conservative agenda for Florida and trying to govern based on that agenda. On the evidence of Crist’s first two years as governor, this isn’t likely. Au the contraire, Crist has shown, after seeking it, no real taste for the governor’s job.
Crist has held a very light hand to the tiller of Florida’s ship of state in his first two years. His calendar, showing him absent about as many days as he’s been on the job, has gotten extensive coverage in Florida media. Certainly over the last year he’s been more of a campaigner than a governor, jetting off to Washington, New York, Arizona, Las Vegas, and California for fundraisers, even designing his Florida schedule around fundraisers and such ribbon-cutting events that get him free media.
Crist knows how to grip and grin. But his footprint on Florida governance is pretty shallow, even though he’s quick to take credit for such positive things the Florida Legislature has managed to achieve while he’s been governor (often in-absentia). Anyone wishing to be greeted with silence could ask a group of Florida political insiders what Charlie Crist’s agenda is for the next regular session of the Florida Legislature.
It’s not that Florida doesn’t have serious problems. Florida’s unemployment rate is now 11.2 percent, the seventh highest in the nation. If Crist has the first idea about what to do about this he’s kept it hidden. Florida faces a budget deficit of at least $2.6 billion next year. No word yet from Crist how to deal with this either.
So there’s no mystery about why Crist would like to leave the difficult job of being governor of a large, complex state with real problems for the relative obscurity of the Senate, where responsibility is diffuse and there’s no pesky constitutional requirement of a balanced budget, as Florida has. Unlike Rubio, Crist has never told Floridians what he would like to achieve in the U.S. Senate. We only know he would like to be there. Voters paying attention are entitled to conclude that in Washington he would mail it in or sub it out, as he has in Florida.
Even with Florida’s many pressing issues, Floridians who don’t attend Crist fundraisers see little of him. If he were elected to an office in Washington, Floridians might never see him again. To Florida conservatives this prospect holds a certain amount of charm. But this doesn’t stop most of them from supporting Rubio.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?