Yesterday, I sent the Club for Growth some advice on how it can stop the Charlie Crist candidacy in Florida. Like our conservative friends, we also have a vested interested in stopping a "moderate", highly popular, and electable Republican from reaching the general election. THe thought of that Florida seat remaining Republican is apparently equally horrifying to all of us.
As part of my advice, I suggested use of this picture:
Here's a picture you can use to great effect.
In the 2006 Connecticut Democratic primary, we called a similar picture "the kiss". Feel free to steal that idea.
Today, we find success! Marco Rubio (suddenly my favorite Republican) didn't sit around waiting for the Club to get in the act, proactively using their version of "the kiss" to attack Crist right out of the gate:
So the closeted Crist is about to get the Specter treatment, and upon further examination, Rubio is the perfect candidate to take him on. He's young, good-looking, Cuban-American, and straight out central casting for the ambitious young politician looking to take on Goliath:
Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio.
He's a proud teabagger who has the whole "shrinking tent" thing down perfectly.
If Crist runs and wins, he will join Maine's Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe — a pair reviled by many conservatives — as the only Republican senators who supported President Barack Obama's stimulus package.
"If you agree with Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe on some of these issues, you might as well become a Democrat,'' said former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, a Republican who is likely to run for the Senate, whether or not Crist does.
Nice! Just the right mix of attractiveness and craziness that can really chew up Crist in a closed primary in which the conservative base has an outsized influence. As one local observer notes:
Charlie Crist is seen as a moderate, due in part to his support of Barack Obama’s stimulus package. But, even before the Obama position—for which he was roundly attacked on talk radio—Crist had staked out more moderate positions on many of the hot-button issues. He’s anti-abortion, but don’t try to engage him in a long conversation on the matter. He’s anti-gay marriage, but says it in a way that leaves no one completely offended. He won a GOP primary in 2006 against an opponent who had tried to define himself as the only “true conservative” in the race. In didn’t work in 2006, but could 2010 be a different story?
Marco Rubio, after all, is no Tom Gallagher. Sure, he never had a cameo appearance on “The Golden Girls”, but Rubio is young, telegenic and has always been a passionate “conservative”-something that Gallagher could only claim a late-in-life conversion to. And, Rubio has come out swinging. In his announcement, he took a step that many saw as unprecedented—attacking sitting Senators of his own party with whom he would have to caucus, assuming he won the primary and general election. Lashing out at Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, Rubio said that adding to their ranks was essentially the same as electing a Democrat.
While Crist’s popularity ratings have remained unusually high, his popularity among the rank-and-file Republican voters has suffered as of late, particularly after the onslaught he took from political
powerhouses like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity over his support of Obama’s stimulus package. Their opposition [Limbaugh's and Hannity's], when combined with the support already being offered Rubio by the conservative Club for Growth, could signal trouble for Crist in a Republican primary likely to be dominated by conservatives. While Crist’s political fortunes don’t necessarily concern many other than himself, Republicans do have to wonder how Rubio’s increasingly conservative message will sell in a state that voted for a Democratic President and a Democratic Senator in the most recent statewide elections.
Crist is also an apostate for keeping polls open longer to ensure voters were not disenfranchised in 2008 and pushing for the reinstatement of voting rights for ex-felons. Very un-Republican of him, which of course pisses off talk radio. But ultimately, his enthusiastic support for Obama's stimulus package will create more problems for him than anything else, as will that picture. And conservatives are right, given the increasingly intolerant nature of the GOP, a Sen. Crist would be a top candidate for a party switch down the road. Disenchantment with the Democratic field (mostly Rep. Kendrick Meek) is so high right now, that I hear some Democratic strategists are considering working for Crist.
If Rubio can rally the Cuban-American community around him, the alliance between South Florida Republicans, Boss Limbaugh and the rest of wingnut radio, and the nutso base would be potent indeed. And as for money, between the Club for Growth (which is aboard Rubio's candidacy) and the Cubans, money shouldn't be a problem.
Crist's statewide popularity is irrelevant in a GOP primary. He's headed for rough waters ahead.