Gloves are definitely off, or as Gov. Charlie Crist says, "Game on" in the U.S. Senate primary vs. former House Speaker and Crist rival Marco Rubio, who is leading in the race right now. Crist, as we've reported in recent weeks, has been ramping up the negative stuff about Rubio, portraying the West Miami Republican as a hypocrite who doesn't walk the talk when it comes to conservatism.
Crist "I’m confident about the race. I know what the numbers are and all of the projections and all of that stuff. And that’s all fine and well and good. But we’ve got six months to go. And the reality is this: The people really don’t know the opponent.
"You all have covered both him and me. And I think that it’s important before people vote that they are an informed voter. And I am confident that by the time Aug. 24 comes, they’ll be well informed."
Question: What will the people be informed about?
Crist: "What he says isn’t what he does. Do you want the real deal or let’s make a deal? Do you want somebody who really is going to fight for you and is truthful about what he believes in, or somebody who has to think about what the answer is supposed to be because of the group he’s trying to appeal to?"
Question: Like what?
Crist:"Saying he wants to reduce spending and reduce taxes. I hate to say it, when the guy got here, I said it the other day – you really want to be able to judge the character of somebody, give them power and then you’ll see what they’ll do. Well the speaker, to his great credit, rose to power. He was the third most powerful politician in the state of Florida as Speaker of the Florida House. So what did he do when he got power? Well, he comes here to Tallahassee… he hires 20 people at $100,000 a piece. He spends what, half a million dollars to make the place where the House members eat nicer? Are you kidding me? This is a fiscal conservative? Not by any definition that I’ve ever seen. Those things aren’t right. You carve in for a buddy of yours the opportunity to sell food on the Turnpike, and who has to veto it? The governor – who he calls the moderate. Who’s the real fiscal conservative here? His first budget that he presents to me as Speaker of the House when he had power – almost $500 million of earmarks, I’ve got to pull out my veto pen and get rid of them. That’s what I mean."
A few corrections: Not all 22 staffers earned more than $100k. Rubio spent $400k on renovations, which included a members-only dining room. The dining room wasn't $500k. The budget Crist vetoed a record amount of spending from wasn't just Rubio's budget; it was a budget that the Senate signed off on as well and helped stuff with pork.