U.S. Sen. candidate George LeMieux has been campaigning more and more as the Tea Party candidate these days. But then he appeared on 1620 AM radio yesterday in Pensacola.
LeMieux, a former interim U.S. senator, was asked if he would have voted for the so-called "Restore Act," which would have allocated BP oil-spill money to the Gulf Coast. Or would he have voted against it like Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, the only Gulf Coast senator to oppose the act because it allowed for oil-spill money to be spent in unaffected states?
LeMieux chose the act.
"I would have voted for it, in all due respect to Marco," LeMieux explained. He noted that, when he was in the Senate, he helped ensure that the money would be directed to Gulf Coast states.
LeMieux's answer is probably good for a general election. But for a Republican primary, it might be toxic. Conventional wisdom says a conservative candidate needs to say two words over and over again to win the GOP race: "Marco Rubio." LeMieux's stance, even though it might be well-intentioned, could be held against him because the Senate's Restore Act was a product of Washington deal-making. And that's something Rubio decried today during a speech Tuesday at the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce, where he was asked about his nay vote for a bill that he initially sponsored.
Rubio said the bill became an out of hand "free for all" as Senators began loading it up with goodies for their home states.
“The minute I started supporting that kinds of stuff is the minute I become like them," Rubio said. “That money should not be diverted to other parts of the country. That had nothing to do with the oil spill I know that’s how they cut deals in Washington, but that’s not what I went to Washington to do.”
Rep. Connie Mack, the frontrunner in the GOP primary, had the luxury of voting on a more conservative House plan before it went to the Senate, where it was approved 74-22. The bill needs to be reconciled in conference. But before that happens, expect more politics.