Transcript of the "heckler" exchange from U.S. Senate debate

Sunday's U.S. Senate debate held some combative exchanges. None more so than one over Gov. Charlie Crist's change in position on some issues. Below, a transcript of the exchange taken from CQ Transcripts wire:

Adam Smith: Well, if you've changed your mind on so many things, why should people not worry that you're going to change your mind on key issues once you get to Washington?

Charlie Crist: Adam, I'm glad you asked the question because I think the people of Florida understand that it's important to see what the facts and circumstances are at the time. And if things change, you need to change what you're looking at, and understand that you have to have an independent thinker to be a good United States senator.

You know, facts change all of the time. Now if you want to elect somebody that's rigid, that — you know, I think people want an open- minded senator rather than the opposite, a closed-minded senator, and is honest enough to say, you know, things change, and sometimes have to — I'm an old quarterback.

You know, I remember calling a play in the huddle and literally, as you're walking up to the line of scrimmage, you survey the defense, the facts and circumstances before you, see where the linebackers are, and realize that there's going to be a blitz. You've got to call an audible. You have to change to adapt to the circumstances to do the best thing for your state.

Candy Crowley: Mr. Rubio, do you see — do you see Mr. Crist as a person who's able to change the play when he has to and that or you're an ideologue, or how do you ...

Marco Rubio: Well, two separate questions. I mean, Candy, this has been well-documented. I mean, he changes positions on the issues because he wants to win the election. I mean, it's been documented by the St. Petersburg Times, the newspaper that Adam works in.

Crist: That is so untrue and so unfair for you to interpret what's in my heart.

Rubio: Can I finish the — there's an article. I didn't write it. The article was in the St. Petersburg Times, and it said that, basically, on the day he switched parties, he was sitting across the table from a reporter...

Crist: Well, let's talk about another article that was in the St. Petersburg Times ...

Rubio: ... and picked up the phone ...

Crist: ... about the job you got ...

(Crosstalk)

Rubio: ... and called the pollster, and pollster told him you have a better chance of running as an independent.

Crist: You traded tax money to get two jobs at a university and a hospital ...

Rubio: Can I — can I ...

Crist: by steering millions of dollars to ...

Rubio: That's categorically false ...

(Crosstalk)

Crist: If people at home make $165,000 — I don't, and I'm the governor of Florida. But he traded money to get it. That was in the St. Petersburg Times, too.

(Crosstalk)

Rubio: That is a false accusation. Not only is that a false accusation but it's been a trend in this campaign. Any time we get into the issues, the governor wants to turn it into something else because he's wrong on the issues.

(Crosstalk)

Crist: Why won't you release your RPOF credit card and clear this up?

Rubio: On the ideologue issue, as of today, I have now been ...

Crist: And why is there a federal investigation into your reporting income?

Rubio: This is just one litany of falsehoods after another.

Crowley: Well, why don't you — maybe he would let you — why don't you — can you answer this question, and then we'll...

Crist: ... across the state of Florida for the past year.

Smith: Why not release the full IRS records, the full credit card statements from what you charged on the card?

Rubio: Adam, these questions have been answered now since February. My tax returns are public. I've gone well beyond the point of disclosure. The bottom line is people want to focus on these issues because they're wrong on the important issues. This country has a $13.5 trillion debt.

Crist: He doesn't want to release them because he doesn't believe in transparency. I created the Office of Open Government in the governor's office for the first time in the history of our state.

Rubio: I've never had a heckler at the debate. I've always had them in the audience.

Crist: That's the way it is. Welcome to the NFL.

Smith: Go ahead. Let him finish.

Rubio: I apologize. I mean, I've had this heckler going on for two minutes now. Here's what I'd like to be able to tell you about ideology and all this talk about — this is a national talking point now that the Democrats have adopted across the country.

Here's the reality. I have now received the endorsement of six separate major newspapers in Florida, not exactly the place conservatives go to hang out, at editorial boards.

And the reason why they are supporting me is because I'm the only candidate in this race that's proposing serious answers to the serious issues that face America. And that's what this election is about, at the end of the day.

It's not about you, governor. It's not about your ability to deliver the lines you've been planning for two weeks. It's not about you, congressman. And it isn't even about me.

Crist: It's about...

Rubio: This election is about the people watching whose country is going in the wrong direction, who understand that, if we keep doing what we are doing now, we are going to be the first Americans in history to leave our children worse off than ourselves. That's what this election is about. I was hoping that's what this debate would be about. And I hope that's what the next eight days is about.

Meek: Well, let me tell you — let me tell you. Here's the deal. Here's the deal. Let me just say this.

Crowley: Go ahead.

Meek: I just want to clarify I'm the only defensive player here at this table.

And I used to be an outside linebacker, and I used to sack quarterbacks and fold knees, things of that nature. I think it's important. And I think, Marco, you know, you got me at the end when we started talking about the people that are looking for a United States senator to stand up for them.

I think it's very, very important, Candy, to understand that, in Florida, the reality is the following. A, jobs have to be created. B, we have to diversify our economy. C, we've got to stop the politics of offshore oil drilling in this state, that both of these gentlemen have been standing for in the past. It's kind of hard...

Crist: I don't...

Meek: Well, now you don't.

Crist: No, I don't.

Meek: You know, governor, if you let — if you allow me to give straight answers of positions that I've had for the last umpteen years, I would appreciate it.

Crist: Go ahead.

Meek: Thank you so very much.

I think it's important, Candy, to understand that, when a United States senator from Florida hits the floor in Washington, D.C., they must have the will and the desire to stand up on behalf of the people and not the special interests.

And I think both of these candidates have done so in the past. I think that's the reason why the personal nature of where people stand on issues such as comprehensive immigration reform — it's not amnesty. It's an issue that's facing this state. Don't you know that tourism is a $63 billion industry in Florida? And if we allow an Arizona-style law to prosper here, we will see individuals boycott — boycotting the state that will hurt our economy.

Crowley: I've got to halt this...

Rubio: Listen to Kendrick talk about being a linebacker and buckling knees, I'm just glad he's not going to hit me.

Crowley: Okay, good. So let me hold you all right there. We'll be back after this.

Transcript of the "heckler" exchange from U.S. Senate debate 10/24/10 [Last modified: Sunday, October 24, 2010 3:41pm]

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