Speaker Cretul Backs Rubio in Senate Race, Blasts Crist
House Speaker Larry Cretul endorsed Marco Rubio’s candidacy for U.S. Senate on Tuesday – ripping into Gov. Charlie Crist as a politician ready to “do just about anything to preserve his political ambitions.”
The tone Cretul used to lash out at Crist was rare for the understated Ocala Republican. But Cretul hinted that Crist’s veto last week of a teacher merit-pay plan supported by Republican leadership but opposed by Democrats and the state’s largest teachers’ union played a central role in his endorsement.
“Marco’s thoughtful, intelligent and principled conservatism are a sharp contrast with his opponent’s erratic behavior and his relentlessly negative and desperate attacks against Marco and the Republican-led Florida Legislature,” Cretul said. “During the past few months, Gov. Crist has confirmed what most Floridians already knew about him, which is that he’s willing to say or do just about anything to preserve his political ambitions.”
With the Legislature less than two weeks from its scheduled finish, Cretul’s blast is likely to further corrode relations between the Republican governor and GOP legislative leaders.
When told of Cretul’s comments, Crist said little, other than to say he planned to “treat him as a gentleman.”
But speculation among House members from both parties was that Cretul’s harsh reaction stemmed from Crist’s own tough talk last weekend in Jacksonville at an appearance before teachers. Crist questioned, “Who is running the asylum?” in characterizing the thinking that led to the merit-pay proposal.
“His comments were completely inappropriate,” said House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach. “Those politics of personal destruction have always been something (Crist) says he doesn’t believe in. He should apologize.”
Rep. Ron Saunders, D-Key West, also acknowledged that the “asylum” comment likely enflamed Cretul. “He probably took it personally,” Saunders said. “After all, he’s one of the ones running it.”