- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 20, 2010

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor endorsed Florida Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio on Tuesday, saying he represents a “principled” choice for Republicans over Gov. Charlie Crist.

Mr. Rubio and Mr. Crist will face off in an August primary, unless Mr. Crist decides to run as an independent — a decision he will have to make by April 30, which is the filing deadline for candidates to appear on primary ballots.

“The warning signs have been there are far as Governor Crist is concerned,” said Mr. Cantor, a Virginia Republican, who said the governor’s support of President Obama’s stimulus package is an early sign Mr. Crist was not a supporter of Republicans’ low-taxes, limited-government philosophy.

And Mr. Cantor blasted Mr. Crist for appearing to waffle on whether he would run as a Republican, saying it would mean “casting aside years and years of involvement in our party” in order to preserve his political career.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has even asked Mr. Crist to step aside from the race if he doesn’t believe he can win the Republican primary — a giant change from a year ago, when the NRSC recruited the governor to run.

The Miami Herald reported Tuesday that Mr. Crist confirmed he is considering running as an independent, and he told the newspaper the input from Washington doesn’t affect him.

“I’m getting all kinds of advice,” he said. “I take my cues from people in Florida. That’s what I care about.”

Polls this month show Mr. Rubio leading Mr. Crist in the primary by more than 20 percentage points.

Polls also show both men would best Rep. Kendrick Meek, the Florida Democrat who is likely to be his party’s nominee, though Mr. Crist does slightly better in those match-ups than Mr. Rubio.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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