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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio bracing for Crist's 'wild punches'



What does Charlie Crist have in store for Marco Rubio in 2010?

"A lot of wild punches. And early negative advertising. And mudslinging mail. And anonymous websites. All repeated ad nauseum. So be forewarned. It’s coming. Very, very soon."

So says Rubio advisor Pat Shortridge in a year-end memo to supporters that casts the GOP primary as something bigger than either candidate.

"The outcome of this election will, in many respects, help determine the future of the United States – whether your children and mine will have the same opportunities we had, and our parents before us.  Again, remember: this is not about us.  It is about our country and our future." (full memo below)

Crist spokeswoman Andrea Saul reacts: "It's certainly expected that Rubio is already trying to set the stage this year to continue hiding from his actual record. Primary voters will see the real Marco Rubio supported a carbon tax, fought against immigration reform and was a major disappointment to gun owners."

TO:                 Marco Rubio Supporters & Allies

FROM:           Pat Shortridge, Senior Advisor

SUBJECT:     Year End Memo
DATE:            Thursday, 12/31/09

With 2009 about to give way to 2010, I thought it was the right time to give you and Marco’s other key supporters my take on where the campaign stands and why.

Marco’s ascendance in the U.S. Senate race over the course of the past six months is unprecedented.  Clearly, it has shocked and surprised the political class and the MSM.  However, it is not surprising to the growing army of Floridians supporting Marco.

While many members of the political establishment and the insiders in Washington, DC and Florida declared the Senate primary over before it had even really begun, we had a much clearer understanding of Marco’s strengths, the opportunities before us and the kind of campaign we needed to run.

As I wrote to Marco back in July:

Governor Crist’s entire hope for victory is based on the quick knockout.  I guarantee that his strategy from Day One has been: post a huge fundraising number, then use it to try and push you out of the race.  He knows full well that the longer you’re in the race, the more people become familiar with both of you, and he will fall far and fast.  I’ve believed from the first that you will have to ride out this storm, but then will be poised for success as your allies rally to your side and Floridians embrace your ideas and energy.

Some campaigns are built for the long haul, others are not.  From day one, the raison d’etre of the Crist campaign was spelled out for all to see: inevitability.  Governor Crist was supposed to be the safest, easiest path to victory.  By raising substantial amounts of money, he would keep the seat in Republican hands and allow national Republicans to spend resources elsewhere.  The Crist campaign’s slogan is even more direct: “Join the Winning Team!”

But what remains missing from the Crist campaign is any rationale for his candidacy based on things that matter to Republican voters – values, principles and ideas.  Any mention of what kind of Senator Charlie Crist would be, any mention of the issues he would fight for as a United States Senator has been conspicuously absent because they don’t exist or haven’t been reinvented yet (his issues page on the website has been “coming soon” for over half a year).

For precisely the opposite reason, Marco’s campaign continues on a very steep upward trajectory.  The campaign gains momentum every day, but more importantly, it gains money, people and votes. Use any measuring stick you like – number of donors, number of volunteers, supporters on our email list, grassroots organizers, online/new media presence, straw poll blowouts, attendees at events – and it’s clear Marco’s campaign is on fire.  And no, we haven’t caught Governor Crist in fundraising, but we are closing the gap every quarter.

Gone are the days when pundits and political insiders questioned Marco’s viability and wondered whether he would switch races.  In the ultimate irony, many of the same people now ask the same about Governor Crist.

But before anyone gets carried away, we need to remember not only how far we’ve come, but how far we have to go.  Governor Crist remains a formidable politician and prolific fundraiser.  He has a significant financial war chest, unrivaled political flexibility, and the powers of the Governor’s office to further his political ambitions.

But I believe the key critical question in this election, whose answer is the main reason Floridians will elect Marco Rubio as their next Senator, is: who do you trust to stand up to the radical agenda of President Obama and the Democrat Congress and offer a positive conservative alternative?

And Marco Rubio is that answer.

He is the candidate who possesses the principles, ideas, passion and leadership to ensure that America remains an exceptional country.  And that’s why he will win in August and November.

On the other hand, just imagine for a moment a Democrat Governor from a key swing state running for the

U.S. Senate this cycle with the following record:

·       Unemployment has risen from 3.3 to 11.5 percent on his watch
·       Housing values down by 58%
·       Taxes raised by $2.2 billion                      
·       A $787 billion stimulus spending advocate and open to a second one
·       Property taxes up after promising they would “drop like a rock”
·       A statewide cap-and-trade executive order
·       A liberal activist appointment to the state Supreme Court
·       Vetoed a reform of the property/casualty insurance market             
·       A refusal to support the statewide marriage initiative
·       A record of flip-flops on abortion

Republicans would be chomping at the bit to run against this guy!

The reality is that Marco Rubio is the far stronger general election candidate.  Independent polls already show Marco running ahead of Charlie against Democrats in November general election match-ups.  Marco appeals to younger voters, conservative independents and Hispanics, the key demographics that led to Republican defeats in 2006 and 2008.  And just as importantly, Marco has voter intensity behind him.  Down ballot Florida Republicans won’t have to worry about voters staying home with Marco as their nominee.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is Governor Crist was planning for that quick knockout. And when it didn’t materialize, his campaign panicked. 

So brace yourself.

Governor Crist’s convenient dishonesty about his support for the stimulus says almost everything you need to know about the kind of campaign he’ll wage against Marco.  He’s going to throw a lot of wild punches.  And early negative advertising.  And mudslinging mail.  And anonymous websites.  All repeated ad nauseum.  So be forewarned.  It’s coming.  Very, very soon.

The Governor’s campaign will say things it knows not to be true, about him and Marco.  They’ll distort both records.  And it won’t be pretty.  But it won’t be effective either.

Tens of thousands of Floridians – those who have donated, signed up to organize, packed one of his speeches, voted in a straw poll – have examined the facts and support Marco Rubio.  National leaders like

Sen. Jim DeMint, Gov. Mike Huckabee, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and U.S. Reps. Ginny Brown-Waite and Jeff Miller, as well as groups like the Club for Growth, Family Research Council and National Review magazine have looked at the record and come to the conclusion that there’s no comparison between Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist.

The times we live in call for courageous leaders and bold action.  Our country is in trouble.  By any objective measurement, things are bad and likely to get worse, especially if the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda passes.  The only thing that stands in the way of the country going p ast a point beyond which it cannot be redeemed is a collection of right thinking people who have the courage of their convictions and the ability to persuade their fellow citizens to join them in standing up for their country when their country needs them most.

The primary line of defense right now is the United States Senate.  With only 40 Republicans, freedom’s margin is paper-thin.  While our side may win a few votes and sustain a few filibusters, it’s even more important that we win the argument about the direction of our country, so we can win when it counts. Bottom line: the U.S. Senate needs Marco Rubio.  Marco Rubio will stand up for freedom and the things we believe in when times get tough, and he will persuade Americans that we are right and they ought to follow us.  He is not a typical go-along-to-get-along Republican.  No amount of spin or self-delusion will make it otherwise.  Having Marco Rubio in the Senate will benefit Florida, help our country and grow the Republican Party.

I restate these facts only to remind you that the course you have embarked on is bigger than Marco Rubio.  It’s bigger than the Republican Party.  It’s bigger even than Florida.  The outcome of this election will, in many respects, help determine the future of the United States – whether your children and mine will have the same opportunities we had, and our parents before us.  Again, remember: this is not about us.  It is about our country and our future.

Thank you for all you’ve done for Marco and the cause of freedom.  I wish you and your family a happy, safe and prosperous New Year, and I look forward to seeing and hearing from you soon.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 1:12pm]


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