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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

D.C. conservative groups taking note of Marco Rubio's haul



With Marco Rubio reportedly raising nearly $1-million in the last quarter, Charlie Crist no longer has the sheen of an inevitable winner, said Americans for tax Reform President Grover Norquist.

"Clearly Rubio has made the case to a lot of people that there's room for a serious challenge...He's gaining credibility," said Norquist, noting that Rubio could continue generating interest among conservatives nationally. "This is the only race in a major state that has a clear cut campaign for the future of the Republican party...It may be the Reaganite candidate versus the sort of John McCain candidate."

David Keating, executive director of the Club for Growth, said the group is eager to examine the details of Rubio's report, including how much he's spending, but, "We're certainly going to a closer look at getting involved in this race...If he can sustain that rate, I think he'd have enough money to get his message out and have a good shot at winning,'' said Keating, noting that a Club for Growth endorsement can bring more than $1 million to a campaign.

"If we come to the conlcusion that we think it's a winnable race and we make that recommendation, I wouldn't be surprised if our members donated that kind of money,'' said Keating, who said Charlie Crist is expected to meet with the group later this month.

"The Rubio campaign has now proven its a legitimate effort for the nomination,'' another Republican strategist, John Weaver, told Beth Reinhard at the Herald. "While the governor obviously is the frontrunner, it is no longer far fetched to see how Marco Rubio wins this race. National and state conservative leaders -- from the grassroots to real opinion leaders -- are beginning to rally behind Rubio as their "cause" for this election cycle. If this continues, and Rubio builds on this fundraising success, we could see a huge upset forming in Florida."

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 2:21pm]


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