Thursday, March 25, 2010

Crist and Rubio Duke It Out

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has launched the first television ad of his now-uphill Senate primary race against former state House speaker Marco Rubio, a direct attack on the legislator that seeks to use his national celebrity against him.

"We thought he was different, ideologically pure," said the ad's narrator. "Marco Rubio shot to national stardom . . . called the Republican Obama." The ad goes on to allege that not only was Rubio a registered lobbyist but that he also "used Republican political donations on his lavish lifestyle". OUCH.

Rubio, clearly expecting the hit, immediately responded with not one but two ads of his own. The ads -- both 15 seconds long -- use a close-up shot of Crist and President Obama together while chants of "yes we can" ring in the background.

Crist's decision to immediately go negative on Rubio speaks to the amazing role reversal in the race since its inception. At the start, Crist was regarded as the heavy favorite and Rubio had to withstand staff departures and calls for him to step aside after he struggled to compete with Crist's massive money machine.

But, Crist's support for the president's economic stimulus package badly damaged him in the eyes of Florida conservatives -- see Rubio's ads -- and the former state House speaker became the poster boy for conservatives trying to return the party to its roots.

Crist's ads make plain his strategy: use the millions he has raised to run an extended television campaign undermining the "Rubio as conservative icon" narrative that has led to the decline in the governor's political fortunes. It remains to be seen whether Crist can chip away or whether he let Rubio get too far ahead. But, we are guessing that there is a lot more where these three ads came from -- and the primary isn't until August 24!


Source: The Fix
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