Charlie Crist isn't on the statewide ballot in Florida this year. But if Marco Rubio and his allies succeed, he will be a key player in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
A super PAC backing Rubio announced its first TV ad Thursday. Echoing the message sent by Rubio's campaign, Florida First Project will attack Rubio rival Carlos Beruff as a "Charlie Crist Republican." Crist ran against Rubio in 2010, first as a Republican and then as an independent.
Polls show Beruff remains far behind Rubio. Beruff's campaign has started swinging at the senator -- including with a statement Thursday that derided Rubio's backbone as made of "Jello."
The ad will air statewide beginning this weekend, the PAC says.
In a statement, Beruff spokesman Chris Hartline accused Rubio of "lying" about Beruff, "just like he lied to the people of Florida when he said he wouldn't support amnesty for illegal immigrants, lied about his support for Donald Trump and lied when he said he wouldn't run for reelection.
"He's doing it, of course, hiding behind his Super PAC, which is run by his presidential campaign manager," Beruff spokesman Chris Hartline said. "Every Republican in Florida was conned by Charlie Crist, none more so than Marco Rubio, who supported his agenda in the legislature. But it's no surprise that Washington's candidate, Marco Rubio, would lie. He'll say and do whatever he needs to to hold on to political power."