Marco Rubio rarely veers much from his standard stump speech about America being the greatest country ever and her greatness being endangered by the Obama administration's agenda. On Friday in St. Petersburg, though, the Republican Senate nominee threw in some new material suggesting Charlie Crist — and fellow Republicans in Tallahassee — are responsible for Florida's high unemployment rate.
"(Crist) can't campaign on his record because the last four years in Florida have been abysmal. When he took over as governor, Florida was one of the top two or three economies in the country. Today, only California and Nevada are worse off. Eight hundred thousand jobs have been destroyed since he took over as governor since 2006 — a quarter of them since the stimulus plan passed."
Rubio was speaker of the Florida House for two of those years, so we asked if he also bears responsibility for economic collapse: "If you recall, we led an effort to reform the property tax system in Florida. We warned that the economy would collapse if we didn't do something meaningful. I had to fight the Senate and the governor on that. Had they done any of the ideas we tried to do, things would be better," Rubio said, referring to his proposal to end the tax on homesteads and raise sales taxes. "We could never get the governor and the Senate to have leadership on that issue."
Critics of Rubio's plan said it amounted to a major tax increase.
Crist campaign spokesman Danny Kanner noted that Rubio as a city commissioner voted to increase property tax collections and has said he would have accepted stimulus money as governor.
"We understand that he has to appeal to the far-right fringe, but common-sense Democrats, Republicans and independents know that Charlie Crist has led this state through extraordinarily difficult times and has done it well," Kanner said.
Obama at fundraiser
President Barack Obama will be at the Coral Gables home of former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning Monday raising money for Democratic congressional campaigns. Prediction: Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek will make sure he gets in a photo with Obama. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink will make sure she's far away.
Not sure how to vote on the constitutional amendment to allow more flexibility on Florida's class size reduction mandate? Check out the spirited discussion with two prominent Republican legislators — state Rep. Will Weatherford, a supporter of the amendment, and state Sen. Alex Villalobos, an opponent — today on Political Connections on Bay News 9. The show airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Jeb Bush is headed to Harvard
Former Gov. Jeb Bush is heading to the hallowed halls of Harvard University after the election to spend a week at the school's Institute of Politics. He will be a visiting fellow at the institute the week of Nov. 15. The University of Texas alum is expected to meet with student groups, lead discussions on current affairs and public service as well as participate in policy classes with students and faculty members.
Crist's wife is still faithful to GOP
We'll admit our wrongheaded assumptions. A Jewish woman from New York? Sounds like a Democrat. So when Gov. Charlie Crist recently noted that his wife, Carole Rome Crist, remains a Republican, we wondered if she's always been Republican. "Absolutely," said the first lady, noting that her late parents were also Republicans. "I'm a businesswoman."
Adam Smith can be reached at email@example.com.