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Bush keeps Crist in his gun sights

There's been a lot of speculation about when Jeb Bush will finally make his preference official and endorse Marco Rubio for the Senate.

But it strikes us that Rubio is better served for now with the popular ex-governor continuing with his current role: ostensibly neutral and taking increasingly tough shots at Charlie Crist from the sidelines.

It started fairly gently, when Bush appeared on the Today show in January: "I wouldn't have necessarily embraced the stimulus plan that did not have support in the state and campaign for it and put Republicans in a vulnerable position," he said of Crist.

Then came this in an interview with NewsMax in February: "There's one thing that (Crist) has done that I just find unforgivable. He is the only statewide political leader, that I'm aware of, that embraced the stimulus package when Republicans were fighting to suggest an alternative."

Last week, Bush was quoted in a New York Times piece highly critical of Crist's Everglades restoration plans: "To replace projects that were under way for a possibility of a project decades from now is not a good trade. On a net basis, this appears to me there has been a replacement of science-based environmental policy for photo-op environmental policy."

Lost opportunity

Crist had an opportunity to butter up his predecessor last weekend, when Jeb and Columba Bush attended a gala dinner at the Salvador Dali Museum. Mrs. Bush serves on the museum's board. But Crist canceled at the last minute, citing a family emergency.

What emergency? "The issue is a private matter," said a spokeswoman.

Paying up

On Political Connections on Bay News 9 today, newly elected Republican Party of Florida chairman John Thrasher makes clear that if a forensic audit under way at the party finds any improper spending by legislative leaders who had party credit cards, the party will insist on reimbursement.

Rubio recently reimbursed the party $3,000 for flights that were double billed to the state. Thrasher said that was an inadvertent mistake by Rubio, "We're going to make sure that the party has been reimbursed every penny it should be reimbursed if there were expenses outside the normal course of business for the party."

Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

No back wax

So how often does Marco Rubio frequent Churchill's barber shop in Miami, the place where his credit card showed he spent $134?

"He's a good customer," said owner Jose Goyanes, who added that the former House speaker started coming in around 2005 roughly once every three weeks for $20 haircuts.

"He would be on his cell phone the whole time," Goyanes said. "He would come in and run out."

Got that? No mani/pedi, and certainly no back wax.

"I don't think Marco Rubio would have the gall to have anything other than a haircut in this place," Goyanes said. "If he was going to get a back wax, he would probably get his good-looking wife to do it."

Attacks coming?

Two polls of Republican voters in Florida released last week found Crist trailing Rubio by more than 30 points. Even if those numbers are considerably inflated, one wonders how much longer Crist will wait before he starts launching negative television ads.

"Based on the current polling — and there's still five months to go — it would probably make sense for the governor's paid media campaign to begin sooner, rather than later," said former GOP chairman Al Cardenas, who has endorsed Crist.

Crist responds

Here's the Crist campaign's response to a Saturday Times/Herald story on the spending by Rubio's old political committees: "Rubio is a wheeling-and-dealing Miami lobbyist and politician, always trying to scam the system for his personal benefit."

Miami Herald staff writer Beth Reinhard contributed to this week's Buzz. Adam Smith can be reached at asmith@sptimes.com.

Winner

of the week

St. Petersburg barber Carl Troup. Talk about great publicity. Since it was revealed Marco Rubio charged $134 at a Miami barbershop on his GOP party credit card, Charlie Crist has been touting the glories of his longtime barber all over national TV and rallies across the state. "Eleven bucks ­— and that includes tip!" Crist says of Troup's cuts.

Loser(s)

of the week

Tie: Charlie Crist. Accusing Marco Rubio of back waxing? Tacky, weird, and desperate. Marco Rubio. The way his old legislative committee spent money on relatives, credit card payments and undisclosed expenses, he looked like a budding Dan Rostenkowski.

Bush keeps Crist in his gun sights 03/13/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 13, 2010 6:44pm]
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