It's amazing to think about it, but it was just a year ago that there was a legitimate debate within the Republican Party whether it should be a "big tent" party or a "purist" one. Now? Many of the big-tenters have either left the building or are running for their lives. Examples: Arlen Specter switched parties; Dede Scozzafava had to quit her race in that NY-23 election because she was perceived being too liberal for a Republican; Marco Rubio is beating Charlie Crist in the polls; and John McCain has steered hard to the right to stave off a serious primary challenge. To put it another way, the GOP has become Jim DeMint's party. I'd rather have 30 Marco Rubios than 60 Arlen Specters,'' DeMint said at last week's CPAC confab. (Ironically, the way things are going for the GOP in the midterms, it looks like were going to see more than 30 Rubios in the next Senate.)
...DeMint is now trying to deliver a coup de grace to Crist, with his PAC running this internet ad: Will Charlie Switch Parties -- Yes or No? In addition, DeMint is escorting Rubio to handful of fundraisers next month in South Carolina, which has set off 2012 speculation for Rubio (before he's even won his Senate race actually before he's even won his primary). "Some are trying to spin this as a 2012 toe in water, and that's just ridiculous," a GOP source told First Read... But given the rock-star treatment Rubio is getting, does he really need to step inside South Carolina to raise cash? And does Rubio tying himself to DeMint so publicly hurt him in a general election. Florida -- a battleground state Obama won in 08 -- isn't Massachusetts, but how would Scott Brown have fared earlier this year had he publicly stumped with DeMint in South Carolina before hisrace? It's truly stunning that Rubio has agreed to do this; Could Rick Perry have gotten away with a stop in SC, IA or NH during his primary?