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U.S. Senate candidate profiles: Marco Rubio, Charlie Crist, Kendrick Meek



marco_rubio.jpgMarco Rubio's meteoric rise in Florida politics is a story of unremitting ambition, natural talent and powerful connections that began 14 years ago in a Miami coffee shop.

In his final year of law school but looking like a teenager, Rubio sat down to interview with Bob Dole's presidential campaign. He buzzed about a ticket that included former star quarterback Jack Kemp.

Al Cardenas, overseeing the Florida effort and not very optimistic about the outcome, took a sip of café con leche and hired Rubio on the spot.

"I said to myself, 'This is what we need, someone so young that failure is not an option, who hasn't gone through everything to have a more practical outlook,' " Cardenas recalled.

Read the full profile of Marco Rubio



Gov. Charlie Crist emanates cheer and humility.


The perma-cheer is even more remarkable considering Crist, 54, is on the verge of being cast into political oblivion after nearly two decades in office. This former superstar — on the vice presidential short list just two years ago — is a man without a party, shunned by longtime friends and badly trailing Republican Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate race.

Since he fled the Republican Party five months ago, Crist has been relentlessly tarred as a political opportunist, one who has relished being described as a Jeb Bush Republican as well as the best governor Democrats have ever had. He's hailed the leadership of Al Gore and Sarah Palin, railed against offshore drilling and embraced it. He has advocated chain gangs and made it easier for ex-felons to regain their rights.

But for all of Crist's flip-flopping, backpedaling and shape-shifting, one thing remains the same: He is Gov. Sunshine.

Read the profile of Charile Crist by politics editor Adam C. Smith and our profile of Kendrick Meek.

[Last modified: Saturday, October 9, 2010 10:22pm]


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