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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

The week Charlie Crist got back on track?



So says Tim Nickens: Gov. Charlie Crist may yet be the Comeback Kid.

Yes, a new opinion poll last week showed Crist trailing former state House Speaker Marco Rubio in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Yes, Rubio made the cover of the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Yes, the Miami Republican is the darling of the windbag Washington conservatives because he spouts their empty antigovernment rhetoric.

But last week marked the start of Crist's comeback.

The governor's remarks to a gathering of political reporters and editors in Tallahassee were particularly sharp. He hit the economy hard and spoke of specific efforts to cut taxes, recruit businesses and diversify. He struck a populist note by referring to the Public Service Commission's rejection of rate increases for Progress Energy and Florida Power & Light — following his appointment of two new commissioners. He touched on the purchase of thousands of acres for restoration of the Everglades and on higher national rankings for Florida's schools.

...Rubio. who followed Crist, looked and sounded like a nervous teenager in his first bid for student council. He offered few specifics and tired sound bites about limited government and tax cuts. He naively argued for cutting the deficit and reining in entitlements only by reducing spending. He resurrected the failed Republican pitch to let people invest part of their Social Security money, a bad idea even before the recession wiped out many Americans' savings.

When reporters asked Rubio about subjects ranging from state Republican Party spending to his college teaching job to the scandal involving former House Speaker Ray Sansom, he was evasive and complained about "false issues.'' It was a pitiful performance, and the questions are only going to get harder.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:16pm]


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