- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2010

Marco Rubio — now ahead in the Florida Republican primary race for a U.S. Senate seat — said Thursday that his recent poll surge is more about his message than his popularity but that candidate Gov. Charlie Crist helped with his “horrifying decision” to support President Obama’s stimulus plan.

“What’s gaining support is not Marco Rubio, me the person,” he said in an interview with The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” radio show. “It’s our message that limited government has made America the freest and most prosperous society in all of human history, and we’re being asked by our leaders in Washington to abandon that.”

Mr. Rubio, a former Florida House speaker, joins conservatives who have backed his Senate run in criticizing Mr. Crist for supporting the Obama administration’s multibillion-dollar economic stimulus plan.

“It was a horrifying decision” he said.

However, Mr. Rubio thinks Mr. Crist made a bigger mistake than appearing onstage with the president at stimulus-related events.

“He was the only Republican governor to campaign for stimulus money,” Mr. Rubio said. “There were a lot of good ideas being floated by limited-government Republicans, like across-the-board tax cuts that would have stimulated our economy, would have created jobs. He should have lined up behind those ideas… . He actually pressured members of our Republican congressional delegation to vote for the stimulus.”

A Rasmusen poll this week shows Mr. Rubio leading Mr. Crist 49 percent to 37 percent among likely Republican primary voters.

Mr. Crist’s numbers have dropped from 53 percent in August to 49 percent in October. He and Mr. Rubio were tied in December at 43 percent, according to Rasmussen.

Still, Mr. Rubio remains cautiously optimistic about his lead.

“I’m running against somebody who has run five times in statewide elections,” Mr. Rubio said. “He has plenty of money and will say or do anything to win an election.”