Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Charlie Crist pushes back at Senate front-runner Marco Rubio

Under attack on television and losing traction in the U.S. Senate race, Gov. Charlie Crist lashed out Thursday at front-runner Marco Rubio for his spending with a Republican Party credit card and for trying to stuff pork into the state budget.

Rubio periodically used his party-issued American Express card to pick up personal expenses, though he says he later covered them. The former House speaker paid the party back about $2,400 earlier this year after he said he mistakenly charged several flights to Tallahassee while also getting reimbursed by taxpayers.

"To say that you're Mr. Fiscal Conservative and have all those kind of financial issues is stunning to me," Crist, a former Republican running without party affiliation, told the Miami Herald editorial board. "It borders on outright hypocrisy."

Rubio has denied any wrongdoing, and party officials say a top-to-bottom audit — expected to be released Friday — did not raise any red flags about their much-ballyhooed nominee.

Crist's aggressive tone comes as the latest polls show Rubio with a double-digit lead and the antitax Club for Growth began an TV advertising campaign on his behalf. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also airing about $1 million in anti-Crist ads.

"Career politician Charlie Crist will say anything," says the Club for Growth spot, which bashes Crist for denying that he championed President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan and flip-flopping on offshore oil drilling.

The ads, along with a scrappy campaign by Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek, may help Rubio make up for Crist's larger campaign account. Meek and Rubio are expected to pile on their nonpartisan rival at the first three-way debate, which Univision will air at 11 p.m. today.

"When the polls show voters are rejecting his say-and-do-anything-to-win mantra, Charlie Crist gets desperate and lashes out against his opponents," said Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos.

In the meeting at the Miami Herald, Crist was asked if he would swear off negative attacks.

"I'm not going to promise that I'm not going to be accurate," he said. "I'm going to tell the truth. … There will be no personal attacks, but when it comes to spending or different issues, we'll get into soon, I'm sure, I'm going to tell people where my opponents are."

Crist said Rubio was "too doctrinaire" for wanting to expand offshore oil drilling and overturn the Roe vs. Wade court decision legalizing abortion. He also pointed to the pork Rubio put in the state budget as House speaker.

In 2007, Crist vetoed about $50 million in budget perks targeted for Rubio's home county of Miami-Dade, including $800,000 for artificial turf where he played flag football.

"I had to veto a lot of the things one of my opponents put in the budget in order to save you money," Crist said. "I cut it. It was garbage. Junk."

Burgos from the Rubio campaign responded: "He apparently forgot that Marco's House budgets were smaller than Crist's budgets, which contained hundreds of thousands for a personal video crew."

Times political editor Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.

Charlie Crist pushes back at Senate front-runner Marco Rubio 09/16/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 17, 2010 6:54am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Avalos gets life in prison for killing Bradenton neighbor, pastor


    BRADENTON — A Florida man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a neighbor and a local pastor.

    Andres "Andy" Avalos has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a neighbor and a local pastor. 

[File photo from Manatee County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Manchester police hunt for accomplices; Islamic State group claims responsibility for blast

    Public Safety

    MANCHESTER, England — Investigators hunted Tuesday for possible accomplices of the suicide bomber who attacked an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, killing 22 people and sparking a stampede of young concertgoers, some still wearing the American pop star's trademark kitten ears and holding pink balloons.

    Emergency services work at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017. Several people have died following reports of an explosion Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England, police said. A representative said the singer was not injured.  [Peter Byrne | PA via AP]
  3. Why's Pam Bondi raising money? Not to run for office, she says.


    Term-limited Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi may have restarted her political fundraising, but she says she's not considering a run for another public office.

    Attorney General Pam Bondi
  4. Roommates in Tampa Palms slaying case never outgrew Nazi sympathies, friend says


    TAMPA — Like most people, Watson Fincher was shocked to hear that a neo-Nazi turned jihadi stands accused of killing his two Tampa Palms roommates — and that a fourth roommate told federal agents he, too, was a neo-Nazi, had bomb materials and was planning to target infrastructure.

    Authorities investigating a double murder Friday in the Hampton at Tampa Palms complex found explosives and bomb-manking materials in an apartment there. [ANASTASIA DAWSON   |   Times]
  5. The new 'Baywatch' movie is basically about hot people in swimsuits


    Baywatch is a running gag in slow motion, a thong-in-cheek TV retread swapping wholesome jiggles for dirty giggles. There are places for such humor but beaches don't have gutters.

    Kelly Rohrbach as CJ Parker, Alexandra Daddario as Summer, Ilfenesh Hadera as Stephanie Holden, Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon, Zac Efron as Matt Brody and Jon Bass as Ronnie in the film, "Baywatch."