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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio bashes stimulus funding for rail



ST. PETERSBURG -- Bucking local efforts, U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio doesn't want federal stimulus money going to a Tampa-to-Orlando high speed rail project, he told a crowd of 200 at a fundraiser Wednesday afternoon.

Not that he's against rail, Rubio cautioned. But unlike Gov. Charlie Crist, who touts the job benefits of Florida's request for the money, Rubio criticized the longterm debt risks.

"I think rail is good for Florida. I think the federal government  spending money you don’t have is bad for America," Rubio told reporters before the event at Film Lounge. "There’s two separate issues there.  There are a lot of good ideas in the world. But you shouldn’t spend money that you don’t have. That’s our concern, the concern quite frankly is how much of this money is borrowed money, is it money that we’re printing or money we’re borrowing from the Chinese?"

Rubio denied he's trying to have it both ways on an issue (it wouldn't be the first time his record diverged from his rhetoric and UPDATED he split the middle on rail).

"There’s two different things. There’s a lot of good ideas that we can’t afford.  There’s a lot of good ideas that you shouldn’t finance certain ways," Rubio said, adding he supported rail as speaker of the Florida House in his "100 Ideas" program. While he doesn't have an alternate way to pay for the project, he noted other federal sources of rail funding have existed for a long time.

Not that he'd turn up on stage Thursday in Tampa to say as much.

"I don’t know if the stage is the right setting, but I certainly would ask him some tough questions about the way he’s taking this country in particular his administration and this congressional leadership are trying to redefine the role of government in this country," Rubio said.

Rubio had an afternoon fund-raiser before the $25-minimum event at the Central Avenue business, which included a good amount of local Republican executive committee members who helped him win a straw poll this month. He was returning to Miami after a Clearwater event on Wednesday evening.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:15pm]


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