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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

How Marco Rubio, wisely, turned down an offer to be considered as Charlie Crist's running mate



In his new book, An American Son, Marco Rubio describes how he was approached by Charlie Crist's team about being his running mate in the 2006 gubernatorial race.

"Before they decided on Jeff (Kottkamp), the Crist team had approached me to see if i would agree to be vetted for the lieutenant governor's nomination. I don't think they seriously considered me -- I suppose it was an attempt to flatter the incoming speaker of the House. I turned them down. Had I been interested, and had word got out I was under consideration, it would have created chaos among House Republicans as members scrambled to join the race to replace me as speaker," Rubio writes.

"My decision would prove fortunate for another reason. Had I agreed to be vetted, I would have given the Crist campaign an enormous head start in their opposition research when I decided to oppose him for the U.S. Senate nomination three years later."

That oppo research largely dealt with Rubio's finances: his control of political funds for his race for House speaker and use of a Republican Party of Florida-issued American Express card. Rubio and his wife decided to manage the political committee. "That decision proved to be a disaster," he wrote.

He said "seriously underestimated"  the costs and spent more than he anticipated. "I often used my or Jeanette's personal credit cards to pay for many of the campaign's expenditures. When I received my statement, I would spend hours trying to figure out which were political, and which were personal. ... Years later, my lack of bookkeeping skills would come back to haunt me. The press and Gov. Crist raised the matter during my U.S. Senate campaign, implying I had pocketed money from my finance committee and used it to pay for personal items. It wasn't true, but I helped create the misunderstanding my opponents exploited."

He later reveals that from January 2005 until October 2008 he charged about $160,000 in party expenses on the AmEx and says "from time to time a few personal expenses were charges," such as a family reunion in Georgia and for "pavers." But Rubio says that the expenses were paid and insists he never misused party money.

The book gives Rubio a chance to rebut the still lingering questions about those finances, and he takes on Crist and the media.

[Last modified: Friday, June 15, 2012 11:33am]


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