LeMieux opens up assault on Hasner's record
UPDATED 1:18 p.m. with Hasner reaction. See jump.
U.S. Republican Senate candidate George LeMieux this morning opened up an attack on Adam Hasner, saying votes in favor of billions in fee increases, "earmarks," and the stimulus show "Hasner's rhetoric simply does not match his record."
"As a Tallahassee politician, Hasner voted for numerous items that most conservatives oppose. We are providing voters a behind-the-scenes look at Adam Hasner’s Masquerade Ball. When you pull back the curtain, you find the true identity of Hasner’s non-conservative record – the one that sits behind the conservative masks he proudly wears." A website provides what the LeMieux campaign deemed as evidence of Hasner's phony rhetoric. (we've asked Hasner campaign for response)
LeMieux has his own issues, however.
He said he opposed the stimulus but Gov. Charlie Crist, whom LeMieux closely advised, was a major champion of the bailout. And LeMieux sought millions in stimulus for Florida while serving as interim U.S. Senator, not the least of which was high-speed rail.
LeMieux also has a mixed record on earmarks. He he never personally sought any as a senator but voted in favor of a handful of appropriations bills that included thousands of earmarks worth billions of dollars. (PolitiFact story here)
Hasner spokesman Douglass Mayer: “If you want to know why people are sick and tired of politics and politicians, look no further than Charlie Crist-Republican George LeMieux. A year ago, he was part of a campaign to smear Marco Rubio. Then he stabbed his mentor and friend Charlie Crist in the back when the political winds shifted. Now he’s trying to smear another proven conservative in Adam Hasner. Is there anything George LeMieux won’t say or do to win an election?”
Then Hasner's team released a much broader retort:
Poor George LeMieux. Months of trying to reinvent himself as a conservative - and trying to run away from his record as the original Charlie Crist Republican - hasn't worked. So he's going on the attack. LeMieux's attacks on Adam Hasner's proven conservative record shouldn't surprise anyone: they're similar to the attacks he used against another proven conservative, Marco Rubio. To wit:
Senator LeMieux Compared Marco Rubio To Barack Obama: "This is just like President Obama being able to be against the war in Iraq because he didn't have to vote on it. There's a lot of parallels to draw between Speaker Rubio and President Obama in the way they are running their race and in their ability to throw bombs without ever having to lead because they are out of office.'" (Alex Leary, "Rubio campaign like Obama campaign, LeMieux says" TampaBay.com, 11/17/2009)
"If you want to know why people are sick and tired of politics and politicians, look no further than Charlie Crist-Republican George LeMieux," said Hasner for Senate spokesman Douglass Mayer. "A year ago, he was part of a campaign to smear Marco Rubio. Then he stabbed his mentor and friend Charlie Crist in the back when the political winds shifted. Now he's trying to smear another proven conservative in Adam Hasner. Is there anything George LeMieux won't say or do to win an election?"
"Senator LeMieux spent 16 inconsequential months in Washington running Charlie Crist's Senate campaign, voting for billions in earmark spending and engaging in secret backroom negotiations to pass cap-and-trade legislation. Now he wants Floridians to believe he's a born-again conservative. Senator LeMieux isn't being honest about the nearly two decades he spent as Charlie Crist's left-hand man, and he isn't being honest about his moderate-at-best record in Washington. We look forward to setting the record straight and reinforcing why conservatives across Florida and the country are standing with Adam Hasner."
Bizarrely, LeMieux's false attacks on Adam Hasner highlighted his own vulnerabilties, as the St. Petersburg Times quickly pointed out:
"LeMieux has his own issues, however. He said he opposed the stimulus but Gov. Charlie Crist, whom LeMieux closely advised, was a major champion of the bailout. And LeMieux sought millions in stimulus for Florida while serving as interim U.S. Senator, not the least of which was high-speed rail. LeMieux also has a mixed record on earmarks. He never personally sought any as a senator but voted in favor of a handful of appropriations bills that included thousands of earmarks worth billions of dollars. (PolitiFact story here)" (Alex Leary, "LeMieux Opens Up Assault On Hasner's Record" The St. Petersburg Times, 8/01/2011)
BACKGROUND: Charlie Crist Republican George LeMieux
In 2009, George LeMieux And Charlie Crist Could Not Cite Any Major Differences In Their Political Philosophy, Noting Only That They Each Liked Different Football Teams. "Crist and LeMieux could not cite any major differences in their political philosophy on Friday, citing only the governor's favoring of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers versus LeMieux's support of the Miami Dolphins." (Joe Follick, "Crist's 'maestro' is next senator," Sarasota Herald Tribune, 8/29/2009)
George LeMieux Was Charlie Crist's Defacto Campaign Manager While Serving In The Senate.
Shortly After Being Named U.S. Senator, LeMieux Co-Chaired A Washington Fundraiser For Governor Crist's PAC. "As Crist rival Marco Rubio has gained ground, LeMieux has quietly stepped up on behalf of his former boss. He co-headlined a Washington fundraiser for the governor last week and set up a political action committee, Protect America's Future, to funnel money to Crist and other political allies." ("LeMieux watching out for Fla., Crist," Bradenton Herald, 11/27/2009)
LeMieux Tried To Smear Rubio With Other Republican Senators In Washington. "After Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe bucked the Republican establishment last month and endorsed Rubio, LeMieux sought to root out other potential defectors. At a private Capitol Hill luncheon with other Republican senators, LeMieux urged them to talk to him first before taking sides in the race...'What I have told my colleagues was that if they're interested in getting involved in the Florida race, I hope that they will come to me,' LeMieux said Tuesday during his first visit to South Florida since taking office. 'I will give them the benefit of my opinion and obviously, they have the right and choice to do what they like. But I'd like to tell my side of the story.'" ("LeMieux watching out for Fla., Crist," Bradenton Herald, 11/27/2009)
Politifact: "No Doubt" George LeMieux "Falsely Attacked Marco Rubio. " "LeMieux was once Crist's 'maestro' -- serving as Crist's campaign manager and then his chief of staff when Crist was governor. Crist returned the favor and appointed LeMieux to serve out a vacancy in the U.S. Senate in 2009...In his web ad, Hasner said LeMieux 'falsely attacked Marco Rubio.' The ad cites a newspaper article in which LeMieux said Rubio's tax swap proposal was the 'largest tax increase in Florida history.' PolitiFact Florida previously ruled that Rubio's plan was a tax decrease so there's no doubt it is a false attack." (Amy Sherman, PolitiFact, 6/16/2011)
George LeMieux Voted For Billions In Earmark Spending:
"On Oct. 15, 2009, LeMieux voted in favor of an appropriations bill for energy and water development and related agencies for the 2010 fiscal year. According to a Congressional Research Service report, the bill included 2,293 earmarks at a cost of $5.7 billion. (Robert Farley, "George LeMieux Claims He Never Requested A Single Earmark," St. Petersburg Times, 5/12/2011)
Just over a week into his 16-month term, LeMieux began writing requests to the U.S. Transportation Department supporting stimulus projects. (Alex Leary, "LeMieux sends mixed messages on spending, earmarks," Miami Herald, May 16, 2011)
George LeMieux Has Not Been Honest About The Time He Spent Working For Charlie Crist "Anyone visiting George LeMieux's website for U.S. Senate yesterday would have seen harsh comments directed toward him, including an accusation he's attempting to 'whitewash' his biography, which owes a lot to Charlie Crist. (The site barely mentions Crist, whom once considered LeMieux his political 'maestro.')" (Alex Leary, "Is George LeMieux Scrubbing His Campaign Website" The St. Petersburg Times, 4/07/2011)
George LeMieux Engaged In Secret Backroom Negations To Pass Cap-And-Trade Legislation. "Kerry, the de-facto leader of the triumvirate, assured him that there were five Republicans prepared to vote for the bill. One of them, Lindsey Graham, was sitting at the table. Kerry listed four more: Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Scott Brown, and George LeMieux. With five Republicans, getting sixty votes would be relatively easy. The Obama White House and the Three Amigos would be known for having passed a bill that would fundamentally change the American economy and slow the emission of gases that are causing the inexorable, and potentially catastrophic, warming of the planet." (Ryan Lizza, "As The World Burns," The New Yorker, 10/11/2010)