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Rubio Would’ve Taken Stimulus Cash

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The federal economic stimulus that was trumpeted by Gov. Charlie Crist before it wasn’t - and used by state lawmakers to balance the sagging state budget after they decried it - continued to be a political football for Florida’s major candidates for U.S. Senate.

After months of slamming Crist for supporting the $787 billion plan to stimulate the nation’s economy when it, and the president who pushed for it, were more popular, House Speaker Marco Rubio told a Tampa television station that had he been governor when the stimulus was signed, he would have taken the money too.

Had he been governor in February, Rubio told Tampa NBC affiliate Channel 8 WFLA this week that he would not have appeared with President Barack Obama at a Fort Myers rally as Crist famously, or perhaps infamously to hard-line conservatives, did just before the stimulus plan was approved by Congress.

“If I would’ve been governor, I would have studied that plan before I embraced,” he said in the interview. “That rally was in support of a specific plan.”

But once the plan was approved, Rubio said he would have taken the money.

“Accepting the money is different,” Rubio said. “Ultimately I would have accepting those portions of the money that would not have put Florida in a worse position off in the future than it is right now.”

Crist proposed using $4.7 billion to balance the state budget and proclaimed the stimulus was “fantastic” and “remarkable” in the process.

Rubio’s distinction between supporting the stimulus and accepting the money appeared to be too fine a line to draw for Crist’s campaign, which has watched Rubio gain traction in the state and nationally by turning Crist’s embrace of the stimulus and Obama into a conservative scarlet letter. The governor’s campaign pounced when word of Rubio’s Tampa interview spread, calling it “Rubio’s latest flip-flop.”

"It is incredible that Marco Rubio has based his entire campaign on attacking Charlie Crist for doing exactly what, he now admits, he would have done himself,” Crist campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement highlighting Rubio’s previous denunciations of the stimulus. “Time and again, voters in Florida will begin to see the real Marco Rubio."

Democrats also wasted little time chiming into the stimulus gotcha game. U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek’s campaign said the Miami Democratic congressman was “proud” to have supported the stimulus when it was being debated and still in favor of it now.

“While Rubio and Crist continue playing their petty political games, Kendrick Meek is proud that he supported the recovery plan and is consistently fighting to jumpstart the economy,” Meek’s campaign manager Abe Dyk said in a statement. “Crist was for the stimulus, now he's against it. Rubio was against the stimulus, now he's for it.”

“Kendrick has taken one position,” Dyk continued. “He supports the stimulus and will lead the effort to create jobs and end Florida's foreclosure crisis."

National Democrats too could barely contain their glee over the latest stimulus back and forth among the Republicans vying to replace U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, a Crist confidante who is not expected to seek re-election after being appointed by the governor to serve the remainder of retired Sen. Mel Martinez’ term.

“Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio may not agree on much, but at least they agree consistency does not matter,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Communications Director Eric Schultz said in a statement. “We’ve already seen numerous flip-flops from Crist as he moves to the right, but now we know that Rubio is all too willing to play the same political games. While Crist and Rubio continue their political games, Kendrick Meek has been a consistent and steady advocate for job creation and economic recovery.”

This week’s stimulus scrum was not the first time the plan became a political weapon in the 2010 U.S. Senate race. This summer, Crist was hit from the left by Meek after the U.S. Congressman said Florida was slowly spending its transportation allocation. At the same time, he was hit from the right by Rubio for supporting the stimulus in the first place.

Later in the fall, Crist denied endorsing the stimulus in a national televised interview, drawing howls from Rubio supporters, Democrats and reporters who covered him campaigning for it in the spring.

Perhaps interestingly, this week’s latest stimulus tit-for-tat came against the backdrop of lawmakers completing a special session to approve legislation to increase passenger rail use in Florida in the hopes of attracting money in the stimulus plan for high speed rail.

19 Responses »

  1. I feel so betrayed! I thought that we finally had someone that was different. Another Ronald Reagan! Rubio is like all the rest, just say anything to get elected and stand for nothing. Would someone show me a real conservative that I can get excited about.

  2. Rubio is smart enough to take the money!1 Good For him. Couple that with the fact that he isnt Dumb enough to Hug Obamam on stage and he gets conservatives votes. We dont need Arlen Spector Crist in the Senate!

  3. And now the truth from the AP wire and Brendan Farrington

    This is a very truthful article below, only the title was wrong, it is BY THE minute CharlieCrist changes his positions, according to his audience.

    The Crist camp strategy is to parse and misrepresent what Marco Rubio says or his record in an attempt to make him look as though he is wavering. It is one thing to go out ahead of the porkulus package and publiucly support and campaign for it as Crist did, it is quite another to say AFTER the bill has passed whether you would ONLY acceept those portions of the money that would not hurt Florida in the future, such as using it for recurring budget items as Crist advocated for. Crist is clueless and doesn't care as he thinks he is going to D.C., but he will not. Rubio will win this one.

    Analysis: With election near, Gov. Crist changes

    By BRENDAN FARRINGTON
    AP Political Writer

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A sure sign that an election is a year away: Gov. Charlie Crist is changing again.

    The populist Republican governor is trying to convince people he's a conservative now that his opponent in the Republican primary for Senate, former House Speaker Marco Rubio, has cut considerably into Crist's lead in the polls with a conservative message.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_CRIST_CREDIBILITY_ANALYSIS_FLOL-?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=STATE&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2009-12-07-05-13-03

    • Gatorgirl,
      We have all begun to see how Rubio and his supporters refuse (or are unable) to address the challenge that his message is nothing more than opportunistic rhetoric. Rubio just gutted the very heart of his Campaign platform, and his so-called conservative beliefs by saying that he would have embraced the stimulus. Sadly, his loyal supporters are left trying to cling to a weak argument concerning the timing nuance of this issue, which had no bearing on the passage of the legislation.

      In little more than one week, major papers across Florida have just documented that by his record and his own words Rubio supports the stimulus, supports cap and trade, supports the practice of raising taxes and is on both sides of Sun Rail. Someone should have vetted this guy better because he is no conservative.

      Drawing from his legislative record, please tell us how he is a true conservative.

  4. Watcher43,
    I applaud the passionate support you have for your candidate. However, it must have been very difficult to post such an anemic rationalization once learning of Rubio’s support of the Stimulus Package. The blind loyalty you showed in doing so, most likely illustrates the shock and disappointment that all Rubio supporters must be feeling right now.

    It is now clear that Rubio has no core beliefs that allow him to construct a consistent political ideology. His ludicrous “flip-flop” in embracing the Stimulus Package falls on the heels of his now documented liberal support of Cap and Trade, support of raising taxes, being anti-immigration reform and trying to play both sides of the fence with Sun Rail.

    It seems now that his Campaign Platform comes down to, “I won’t take a picture with President Obama”. Hardly the kind of serious thought and political experience we need during these challenging times.

    There is a Country Song that says, “If you don’t stand up for anything, then you’ll fall for everything.” Rubio ought to figure out what he wants to stand for, apologize for the political opportunistic and contradictory messaging he has provided to date and try to earn back the trust and respect of his supporters.

    • Like I have been saying for months. There are two questions that I want the Rubio supporters to answer:

      1) What in Marco Rubios ACTUAL RECORD (not his rhetoric) makes you think he is such a great conservative?

      2) Who do you think is more responsible for the budget mess: the Speaker of the House with nearly unlimited legislative power within the chamber that controls the budget, or the Governor who can only suggest and veto?

  5. If either of you 2 watched the interview that is not what Marco said. So I guess you are both Democrats and can't vote in a Republican primary.

    Marco is going to win. Philosophically he is almost identical to Gov. Jeb Bush and that would mean he is a pro-busness fiscal conservative and a social conservative with convictions, unlike his opponent.

    Charlie Crist supports differing positions (more Democrat than Repubican) based on what he believes at that moment is politically popular whether it is Cap and Trade, Global Warming, hugging Pres. Obama in a photo OP for Stimulus money etc.

    Closed Republican primary, victory will go to Rubio.

    • Gatorgirl,

      You have a great idea! I think everyone should see the video. In fact, let’s look at two unedited interviews with Rubio.

      The first interview was granted by Rubio to CNN. In this video he says that he would have returned the stimulus dollars and cut the State budget by $6 Billion dollars instead.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BY5WFewDzU

      The second video is the most recent, infamous interview where he flip-flops and now says that he would accept the stimulus dollars.
      http://campaignspot.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MjY4NGVhZGY5OGM4ZGFkODRjYmE2NGIwNDgzMWRjODQ

      In addition, you continue to be incorrect in certain policy stances that are held by Crist and Rubio. Below is a link to a Miami Herald article that just ran which clearly outlines Rubio’s support of Cap and Trade. In fact, the article points out that in a quote from 2008 ” Rubio called a federal cap-and-trade system ``inevitable'' and said Florida should be at the forefront.”

      http://www.miamiherald.com/news/florida/story/1376504.html

      Rubio’s record has no semblance of Gov Bush’s legacy. Republican's won't let him fake his way through a primary. That dog won’t hunt, sorry.

    • Gator Girl,
      I am a Republican, have been for very long time, so you are out of luck on that count. You have still not given any actual real accomplishments which illustrate your point. The reason I suspect is that they do not. It is easy for Rubio to talk big from the cheap seats, he is sitting pretty with a sweet part time job making more than I make at my full time job, obtained as a result of his time as speaker (gotta love pork).

      Seems like the prevailing wisdom was that the closed primary would go in favor of the darling of the talk divas Romney, McCain won by six.

  6. Looks to me like Gov Charlie is at best about 1/4 "real Republican" and Marco is at worst only about 1/2 "real Republican". So guess who gets my vote?

    By the way, "Silence", your use of such words as "opportunistic", "weak", "anemic", "ludicrous", etc. make you read more like a transcript of "Axis Sally", "Tokyo Rose" or "Hanoi Jane" than what was written by Ben Franklin under his old nom de plume of "Silence Dogood"! (Hows that for "fightin words"?)

    • Dean,
      What is the rationale for your math. What has Rubio done to earn your trust. When he was speaker, was he a champion for the values you espouse or a pork hound who talked a good game but rarely delivered?

      • Dean,
        Great post, looks like you were able to break out your 8th grade Social Studies and American History text books. Seriously, I am having a hard time following your logic, but I like you. You seem like a pragmatist, and someone that might finally respond to Jose’s long standing question.

        So here’s your chance, based on Rubio’s legislative background please inspire us with his long standing dedication to conservative values.

      • Jose: Frankly not overly enamored with either candidate. Rubio has done little to earn my trust and Gov. Charlie much to lose it.

        "Silence": Thank you for your interesting retort and left-handed complement delivered with the grace of a Dale Carnegie graduate. Unfortunately I can't defend either Rubio or Gov Charlie's "....dedication to conservative values". (A phrase open to varying inclusions.) I suspect we are both cheering for the same team but with different opinions on the value of the various players.

  7. Dean,
    Sincerely, I applaud your honesty and you have provided the first reasonable answer to Jose’s question. It is the folks that cling to Rubio’s mythical conservative background that I question. There is nothing wrong with saying that you will vote against Gov Crist, as opposed to being fueled by another’s message. Crist may have rightfully lost your vote, or he may have done a poor job of communicating what he has accomplished thus far in his term. Either way, he will attempt to share his message over the many months to come.

    I bet that we do agree on most everything, and there is a slight separation that may lead us to champion different candidates in this race. The wonderful thing about our system and our Party is that we will hopefully join together during the general election to make sure that a Republican holds this Senate seat, and many others. All the best to you Dean!

    • "Silence",
      I plan to dust off my "Crenshaw" sign and pick up a "McCollum" yard sign for the 2010 election. Old Republican here who went door-to-door as a kid for IKE in '52, and had a "GOLDWATER" sticker on my car two years before he ran. Spent about a decade with the local "Executive Committee" during the Reagan and Bush Sr. years. Kinda like the "real Republicans" and not overly fond of the phony ones.
      Can't vote for your "Gov. Charlie" and am reminded every time I have to haul non-ethanol gasoline from the local marina for my old outboard and lawnmower. (Anyone reading this might want to check their lawnmower manual about draining ethanol before storage.) I am not overly fond of his efforts in restoring the voting rights of convicted felons, nor raiding the FRS funds to back his hurricane insurance plan. Might also note that my property taxes didn't go down one cent under his plan. As received on this end, "Gov. Charlie's "message" has been "I'll screw up your gas engines, weaken your retirement fund, do zip about your property taxes, and increase the voting pool of dummies and criminals". If he does get elected, I expect, he will at least ,on occasion, vote to block some of the ideologically hamstrung legislation promoted by the Democrats.

      PS: Last week as another customer left, my barber said: "The two things us barbers arn't supposed to talk about is politics and religion". I replied "Yeah, without politicians and preachers, we wouldn't have any wars or much to hiss and spit about" and kept my mouth shut.
      CHEERS!

      • Dean,
        Just curious, why are you opposed to the restoration of voting rights to felons who have paid their debt to society and have remained clean. One of the best ways to give someone a stake in society again is to give them the vote back.

        As for Amendment I, that was universally slobbered over by republicans. In fact, Rubio's plan was even more ambitious.

      • Jose,
        "....paid their debt to society"? Right! Show me the canceled check for their court costs, incarceration, compensation for their victims etc. Notice Gov. Charlie, who used that phrase, didn't give them their gun rights back. Perhaps some of the little darlings might not be through running up more "debts".
        My sympathy and empathy only goes to the victims.

      • Dean,
        Giving them voting rights and giving them gun rights are two very different laws. A gun and a vote are two very different things.

        Please, give me your reasoning for a person who has served their full prison term, committed a non-violent felony and has not re offended in 10 years still being considered some sort of second class citizen. In spite of what I assume you think is some sort of well thought or witty retort, I have yet to see a compelling argument to letting those people who wish to apply for restoration to have them. Giving people a stake is society again is a hell of alot better than continuing to treat them like sub humans, that is a fast track to recidivism.