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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Team Rubio explains why Charlie Crist is toast



Here's the latest "strategy memo" from the Marco Rubio campaign. Take it with as many grains of salt as you choose:

The dynamics in the Florida Senate race have changed dramatically this week as Charlie Crist falls further behind in the polls and becomes increasingly desperate.  Crist’s slide in the polls has been long-predicted by our campaign, as voters learned more about his willingness to say or do anything to win and election, and Democrats increasingly rallied behind their nominee, Rep. Kendrick Meek.

What was also expected is the massive barrage of negative advertising and personal attacks that Crist is now launching in an attempt to save his faltering campaign. We are 100% confident his attacks will fail. However, we are also fully aware that the race is going to tighten significantly before Election Day. Marco may be up today, but Crist is sitting on millions of dollars he plans to use for a false and desperate negative campaign, and liberal Democrat heavy hitters like Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and Al Gore continue to makes trips to Florida to consolidate Democrats for Meek. So while we know the race will tighten, which one of our opponents emerges in second place is, today, anyone’s guess.

Consider the following facts about Crist’s desperate new attack strategy:

Crist’s TV campaign is now 100% negative in virtually all major markets.  Charlie Crist doesn’t know what he stands for so he can’t give voters a reason to vote FOR him.  All he can do is attack his opponents.  And so despite his promise to run a positive campaign, his entire advertising campaign is now 100% negative in virtually every major media market in Florida.
Crist is sinking drastically in the polls. Since the primary, the RealClearPolitics average of polls has moved from a 1.4 percentage point advantage for Marco to 10.2 percentage points. Not only are Crist’s numbers plummeting, but he is now in a statistical dead heat with Meek for second place in most public polls. Despite being outspent significantly, Kendrick Meek has moved up and is in a tie for second place in our own internal research.
Virtually every major campaign handicapper has moved the Florida Senate race into the “Lean Republican” column including:
1.    Rothenberg Political Report: Lean Republican
2.    Washington Post’s “The Fix”: Lean Republican
3.    Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 Ranking: Lean Republican
4.    Congressional Quarterly: Lean Republican
5.    Karl Rove’s State of the Race: Lean Republican
6.    Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball: Lean Republican

Crist’s strategy is as erratic as his message. The governor is now on his fifth new television ad in only 20 days. Apparently when you don’t know what you stand for, it’s not easy to figure out what to say.
Crist is desperate and increasingly shrill. When he announced his supposed “independence” in April 2010, Crist said people “are tired of the games and the name calling and the politics of personal destruction.” He promised to run a “positive campaign” on the issues important to Floridians. But Crist will say and do anything to win.  And as we found out today with his new attack ad which talks about both Marco’s family and Rep. Kendrick Meek’s mother, there is no limit to the depths Crist will stoop to try to win an election.
Crist is being forced to acknowledge Meek. Crist is now personally attacking both Marco and Meek. As much as anything, this shows how far he has fallen.  It wasn’t that long ago that Crist was quoted saying that Democrats should support him over Kendrick Meek because, “I can win.” If Crist feels he must now attack Meek, he must be in deep trouble.
Crist is running different messages in different markets. None of his television ads have reached saturation levels because Crist keeps flip-flopping on his own advertising.  The net result: nothing is burning through to voters other than Crist’s obvious political opportunism.
Crist is trying to have it both ways. In trying to be all things to all voters, Crist is actually running contradictory messages. In South Florida where there are more Democrats, he has been running ads defending stimulus spending. In northern markets where there are more Republicans, Crist has been attacking wasteful spending. Additionally, Crist has also sent direct mail with liberal messages to Democrats and conservative messages to Republicans.
The bottom line: Crist is in deep trouble.  He is a desperate politician who will say or do anything to win. His ads reflect that. His behavior reflects that. And so does his drop in the polls. Expect him to get increasingly desperate and shrill in the days ahead. Expect Florida voters to reject it.

[Last modified: Thursday, October 7, 2010 5:31pm]


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