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Sen. LeMieux defends Everglades deal

U.S. Sen. George LeMieux spoke to The Miami Herald editorial board today on a number of topics and defended the Everglades land deal proposed by his former boss, Gov. Charlie Crist. He also denied that he had anything personally to gain from his former law firm's representation of U.S. Sugar.

 "For my part, I was leaving the governor's office when this sprouted. I was not in the meetings when it happened,'' he said. "I purposely said to the governor that I can't be involved in this. I don't want to know anything about it. I have never in fact had a conversation with the governor (about it), even when I was there or after, just to be sure that there was no appearance of conflict to the point where, even though the firm took in revenues from this transaction, I didn't receive any compensation from that...

"I believe it was a historic opportunity. I think being able to acquire that much land for water storage or water purification is tremendously important..It's always easy to poke holes and say you paid too much or this or that, but in the end, I think it's a huge legacy item for the governor."

On the U.S. Senate primary between Crist and former House Speaker Marco Rubio: "I think it's going to be a heated and close contest. It's become nationalized to many people. It's not just about Florida. It's about where the Republican party is going..... It's hard for any incumbent right now but I think ultimately at the end of the day, it would be ill-advised to underestimate Charlie Crist in a campaign in Florida."

On 2012: "I'm thinking about the future and hopefully I'd like to do public service again. If there's a way with four kids who are six and under to do public service in the future and it makes sense for my family, then I'll pursue it."

On Rubio's use of his party credit card: "I didn't have a credit card....You've got to be very careful with those dolllars when you're spending party money. It's not public money, but it's still money that's going to you for a particular purpose -- it's to recruit candidates, it's to recruit people to the party, it's for party building, strategy, things that are supposed to get people elected. Anyone that has spent money on themselves personally has to be held accountable."