Rubio and Smith to Participate in Senate Candidate Forum
At least two Republican contenders for Florida’s Republican U.S. Senate nomination will be featured in a candidates’ forum sponsored by the West Charlotte Republican Club.
Former New Hampshire Senator Bob Smith (now living in Sarasota) and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (Miami) will face-off on Tuesday, October 20, at 6:00 PM.
Smith, who recently kicked off his campaign after several months of exploring a bid, praised the leadership of the Charlotte County Republican Executive Committee for “going the extra mile” to ensure the candidates have a level playing field to present their positions to the grassroots base of the party.
During a recent appearance on the Jacksonville Observer Radio Show, Smith made it clear that he was not pulling punches against Crist or Rubio. He noted that his campaign is going to include a significant focus on dealing with illegal immigration. On the issue of so-called amnesty, Smith replies: "No, no, and hell no!"
The debate with Rubio is going to be his first major platform to try and make some news and gain traction in what has thus far been a two-horse race.
"If the voters of Florida send me back to the U.S. Senate, they will get a conservative leader who will give no quarter to the liberals," said Smith. "I know the rules of the Senate and I know the issues. They will not push me around like some inexperienced freshman senator. I do not intend to stand by and watch the liberals destroy our Constitution and our nation."
Smith has also begun to address criticism that he is “splitting the conservative vote” with Rubio.
“Up until now, Speaker Rubio’s greatest strength with the conservative base of Florida’s Republican Party has been that he isn’t Governor Crist. This first face off will accent the contrasts between myself and the Speaker. I am excited to have the opportunity to put my conservative credentials into the arena and let the voters decide who the true conservative leader in this race is," Smith said.
Regarding Tuesday night's forum, Lisa Macci, a Smith campaign spokeswoman added: "Bob Smith is a former two-term United States Senator and three-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Marco Rubio is the former Speaker of the Florida House. To deny either of them the right to participate in this primary and 'crown' Governor Crist as our party's nominee is not only arrogant, it is not only an insult to both Smith and Rubio, but more importantly, to all Republican Executive Committees, clubs and primary voters."
Governor Charlie Crist, the front-runner in both polls and fundraising, has not yet accepted the invitation to participate. The event will be held before an estimated crowd of 300 at The American Legion Post #113.