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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist on Marco Rubio's 'character, integrity'



Gov. Charlie Crist spent a day in Washington to discuss planned changes to NASA's mission but also sounded off on health care, Marco Rubio and dismissed the notion he would run as an "no party affiliation" candidate should he lose the GOP U.S. Senate primary.

The Rubio camp has said Crist's focus on Rubio's use of a Republican Party credit cards and other spending is an attempt to divert attention from the real issues. Crist disagreed.

"I think the people are focusing on what they want in a leader," the governor told reporters. "And I think what people want in a leader is first and foremost somebody they can trust. Somebody they can trust other people's money to, like taxpayer money or in this case, maybe party money or both. People care about character. And they care about integrity. It's the people that focus on that. And they have a right to."

Health care: "I'm concerned about ramming something through," Crist, adding that he flatly opposed the plan and that he did not think his position was any different than Rubio's. But the Rubio campaign said it's another example of Crist shifting positions, pointing to this Palm Beach Post editorial board meeting.

“Just as Charlie Crist infamously claimed he didn’t endorse the stimulus, he’s now trying to reinvent his position on ObamaCare,” said Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos. “Just last month, he sided with Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in saying ObamaCare shouldn't be scrapped. A few weeks and a couple of polls later, he’s now desperately railing against it."

Crist denies he's changing positions.

NPA: Crist dismissed talk that he would run as a "no party affiliation" candidate should he lose the primary. "I don't even know what that is," Crist said. When told and pressed to say whether he'd rule that out, Crist replied, "I think I have." Crist has previously said he would not drop out of the primary and run as an independent.

LeMieux: Sen. George LeMieux, appointed to the interim U.S. Senate seat by Crist, recently the he would not have voted for the stimulus bill. Crist has said he would have.

Mixed messages from the Crist team? "He's his own man and that's a good thing. I understood from a position as being the governor of a state that those dollars were necessary at a time when it looked like we were going off into the economic abyss."

VIDEO: Crist meets with LeMieux in LeMieux's office. (May need to crank up volume)

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:29pm]


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