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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

In Jacksonville, Rubio goes after Trump -- and Charlie Crist



Speaking at a rally in Jacksonville on Saturday, Marco Rubio took down Donald Trump, accusing him of not being a true, lifelong conservative.

And he did it in the most Florida way possible: by comparing the Republican frontrunner to Charlie Crist.

Rubio harkened back to his 2010 U.S. Senate campaign, when he beat Crist — then the sitting governor and still a Republican.

“I was arguing that the person running as a Republican was not a Republican. That the person masquerading as a conservative was not a conservative,” he said. “It’s funny how history repeats itself.”

Ragging on Crist for switching from Republican to Independent to Democrat, Rubio said, “Now I hear he’s a vegetarian. He keeps switching! There’s nothing wrong with being a — I don’t want to lose the vegetarian vote.”

Then, he said that’s what’s happening now. That the conservative movement is on the brink of being destroyed. What he didn’t say was who was threatening conservatism, but he did drop some transparent hints.

“People have a right to be angry, they have a right to be afraid. … That has never been the foundation of our movement.”

Rubio hit Trump on policy, too.

"On health care, my plan is a lot more than just getting rid of the lines around the states. We have a real plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

"The commander in chief cannot be a man who thinks nuclear triad is a rock band. That was a joke — not far though."

The rally came as polls show Rubio rising in his home state, where early voting has begun. Joined on stage by GOP officials -- Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Florida Lt. Gov. (and would-be senator) Carlos Lopez-Cantera, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, state Reps. Janet Adkins and Lake Ray -- as well as a few bottles of water (he's getting over a sore throat), he walked through a short stump speech.

The remarks relied on common themes of his campaign: Ending policies of the Obama administration and restoring the American Dream. He also emphasized veterans and the armed forces in Jacksonville, a military town.

The crowd seemed to love it. Rubio riled up “boo”s from the assembled pack for references to Crist and Hillary Clinton


But what sounded like the loudest response was to another part-time Florida man: Donald Trump.

[Last modified: Saturday, March 5, 2016 5:43pm]


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