Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Crist and Rubio square off in a Fox News debate Sunday

U.S. Senate candidates Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio will bring their battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party to a live television audience Sunday when they meet for their first debate.

The Fox News faceoff between the once-popular, politically moderate governor and the rising star of the conservative insurgency will be the first nationally broadcast debate of the 2010 election. It airs at 9 a.m. on Channel 13.

"This is one of the most interesting and certainly the most closely watched election contests this cycle," said Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, whose show averages more than 3.3 million viewers. "It's a compelling race between two fascinating political figures."

With a round of advertising attacks and counterattacks broadcast this week, the stage is set for a contentious Sunday morning.

Crist went first with a television spot striking at Rubio's image as a conservative golden boy by casting him as a slick insider who has misspent political donations. Rubio quickly shot back with two ads denouncing Crist's attack and reminding viewers of the governor's embrace of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package.

The backbiting continued Thursday when Crist posted his tax returns and challenged Rubio to do the same. He's been badgering Rubio to amend his tax returns ever since the former lawmaker acknowledged double-billing state taxpayers and the party for several flights to Tallahassee.

"In some debates, I'm struggling to think what to ask, but this is a target-rich environment," Wallace said. "The toughest job for me is figuring out what I don't have time for."

A debate is typically a chance for the underdog to shine, but in this race, Crist is already well known around the state. His challenge will be to try to knock Rubio off his stride.

"The traditional upside of a debate isn't really there for Crist," said Martin Sweet, a Florida Atlantic University assistant professor whose political science class started a blog on the Senate race. "He's behind and frankly desperate at this point, but trying to come across as substantial and painting Rubio as a lightweight is one possibility."

Rubio has been eager to debate Crist for months and quickly signed on to the proposal from Fox News. He is considered the more talented public speaker, though Crist has more experience doing televised debates from his unsuccessful 1998 Senate bid and his 2006 gubernatorial campaign.

Rubio has never been on a nationally televised Sunday show, according to his campaign. He and Crist will sit at a table and field questions from Wallace without the trappings of a formal debate.

A recent automated poll by Rasmussen Reports shows Rubio continuing to pull ahead of Crist, 56 percent to 34 percent, but Wallace said it's too soon to count Crist out.

"The idea of saying this race is over in March when the primary is in August seems a little foolish to me," Wallace said. "A week is an eternity in politics, and five months is eons."

.Fast facts

Crist vs. Rubio, Round 1

What: Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist, U.S. Senate debate

When/Where: 9 a.m. Sunday, Fox News Sunday

TV: Channel 13

Crist and Rubio square off in a Fox News debate Sunday 03/26/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 26, 2010 10:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Authorities say cocaine is making comeback in Florida

    Crime

    FORT LAUDERDALE — Drug enforcement officials say traffickers are bringing more cocaine into South Florida than at any time in the past decade.

    Traffickers are bringing more cocaine into South Florida than at any time in the past decade, officials say.  [Times files]
  2. Amid escalating Russia crisis, Trump considers major staff changes

    National

    President Donald Trump and his advisers, seeking to contain the escalating Russia crisis that threatens to consume his presidency, are considering a retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a "war room" within the White House, according to several aides and outside Trump allies.

    President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a retooling of his senior staff. [Doug Mills/The New York Times]
  3. Karen Lugo, 13, from Tampa, holds up her IPad Mini to take a picture of herself while relaxing in the sand alongside her mother, Karen Castro (on left), at the North Beach area of Fort DeSoto on Memorial Day (05/27/13). Karen comes to the beach with her family for holidays, she said. Also present was her older brother and three cousins.
  4. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  5. To many Americans, Memorial Day has lost its meaning

    Nation

    ANNVILLE, Pa. — Allison Jaslow heard it more than once as the long holiday weekend approached — a cheerful "Happy Memorial Day!" from oblivious well-wishers.

    Sgt. Heather Lynn Johnsen, of Roseville, Calif., guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Friday, March 22, 1996, in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. [Associated Press file]