Updated Sept. 27 with Video
MIAMI | You could call it the one-two punch.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, the former Republican running for the U.S. Senate as an independent, has taken to the airwaves to attack both his Republican and Democratic opponents in one fell swoop.
“What do we really know about Marco Rubio and Kendrick Meek?,” asks the narrator at the top of the ad.
The ad goes on to rehash two main lines of attack most Florida voters heard during the primary season. Gov. Crist goes after Rep. Meek for his association with a developer who hired his mother as a consultant. Speaker Rubio comes under attack by Gov. Crist for the questions surrounding his use of a Republican Party of Florida credit card for personal expenses and a report that the Internal Revenue Service is investigating him — something Rubio adamantly denies.
“I know that I’m not,” Rubio said when asked in an interview with the PBS NewsHour if he was being investigated by the IRS.
“It’s just not true. And not only is it not true, it’s the kind of politics that people have been increasingly rejecting. We’ve just been submitted, in Florida, to a very negative primary just a few weeks ago. And people want to hear about the issues. They want to hear where do you stand on these issues. They’ve heard all this stuff before,” Rubio added.
The Meek campaign pointed to Crist’s decision to be first on the air with a negative television ad against the Democrat as evidence that Crist has lost his once frontrunner standing in the race.
“After five months of obscuring his lifelong conservative record as a “No Party Affiliated” candidate, Crist has been unable to chip away the Democratic votes he needs to win while Kendrick has consolidated his base. Now, the governor is using the most cynical and desperate Republican attacks to stop the bleeding,” said Meek campaign communications director Adam Sharon.
Mr. Rubio’s rise in the Republican primary, which resulted in Gov. Crist bolting from his party and running as an independent, was one of the earliest signals this volatile election year that tea party backed candidates were packing quite a political punch inside the GOP.
But Speaker Rubio appeared somewhat reluctant to wear the tea party label today when he was asked if indeed he was the tea party candidate in the race.
“I don’t think anyone can claim that mantle. First of all, the tea party is not an organization,” he said.
He also was uninterested in starting something similar to Rep. Michele Bachmann’s tea party House caucus in the Senate, should he get there.
“I don’t think we need a tea party caucus. I think we need a majority of Senators with a level of common sense who understand that the role of government is not to run the economy, but to create an environment where job creators can start businesses or expand existing businesses. And I don’t think we need caucuses to do that,” he said.