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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Can Hasner rekindle the Rubio magic?



housephotooriginal2600.jpgAdam Hasner this morning will formally unveil his campaign for U.S. Senate, presenting himself to voters as an indefatigable conservative ready to tackle "Obamacare" and government spending. But he's also hoping for a big hand from Marco Rubio.

Rubio isn't going to endorse in the Republican primary. Instead, Hasner is going to try confer the endorsement on himself, pressing his long ties to Rubio and closely following his campaign playbook.

"Picked by Marco Rubio to serve as Republican Majority Leader in Florida," Hasner says on his Twitter profile. In interviews, like the one with conservative radio host Mark Levin Monday, Hasner recounts how he and Speaker Rubio took on Gov. Charlie Crist and resisted pulling the GOP to the middle.

Hasner was also one of the few Tallahassee insiders who backed Rubio in the early going of his campaign, a fact that will not go unmentioned in the campaign. Hasner seems to have borrowed Rubio's road atlas, visiting many of the same grassroots groups and Republican clubs as part of his "exploratory" campaign. Assisting him, Hasner likes to say, is his trusty Garmin -- a nod to the GPS that guided Rubio in the lonely days. Like Rubio, Hasner tells crowds he'll be outraised, projecting a scrappy outsider's persona.

But recreating Rubio's success will not be easy. For starters, Rubio had a supreme foil in Crist.

Crist's moderate side and willingness to flip-flop allowed Rubio to position himself as the only conservative in the Republican primary. The storyline was irresistible for the national news media, boosting Rubio's profile as Crist's fundraising and support dried up, leaving him no option but to run as an independent. By contrast, Mike Haridopolos and George LeMieux -- the other Republicans in the 2012 primary -- will be fighting for the same conservative space as Hasner.

Rubio also had a compelling life story as the son of of Cuban exiles. He wove that into campaign speeches, often leaving crowds misty eyed. Hasner knows his way around a podium but Rubio he is not. Nor is Haridopolos or LeMieux, both whom also will hammer away at the health care law and government spending.

Hasner early on, though, has made the right moves.

"If you like Marco Rubio, you'll like this Adam Hasner, too," Levin beamed Monday night. "Another young guy, another solid, another up-and-comer."

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 2:32am]


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