No former speaker of the House knows better how to turn the tides against a well-funded, establishment-backed governor in a Republican primary in Florida than Marco Rubio, so it's no surprise that Newt Gingrich is now publicly drawing parallels between his own campaign and Rubio's 2010 victory. Gingrich, of course, has cast Mitt Romney in the role of Charlie Crist.
"We discovered last night that Mitt Romney has picked up Charlie Crist's campaign team," Gingrich& told a crowd gathered at the Tick Tock Restaurant in St. Petersburg after last night's debate. "I thought that sort of told you everything you needed to know about this primary."
"As governor of Massachusetts, he was pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, pro-tax increase, and pro-gun control," Gingrich continued later in his address. "Now that makes him a moderate in Massachusetts, but it makes him pretty liberal in a Republican primary, which probably explains why he hired Charlie Crist's staff."
We're not sure why it took so long for Gingrich to make this "discovery," but former Crist aide Stuart Stevens is now working as a top advisor to Romney. Former Crist campaign staffers Andrea Saul and Amanda Hennenberg are also employed by Romney in Florida. However, all three left Crist's campaign after the Florida governor dropped his Republican party affiliation in favor of running as an independent.
Gingrich, meanwhile, has hired Rubio's 2010 campaign manager, Jose Mallea, as his Florida director.
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Rubio has long claimed he won't offer an endorsement in the primary, but Gingrich seems hungry to compare himself closely to the junior senator while casting Romney as a Crist-like figure. Naked Politics even reports that a Gingrich-aligned super PAC might soon begin airing commercials highlighting the comparison.
One bit of history Gingrich seems to conveniently omit: Crist and Romney aren't historically close. Back when he was popular among GOP voters, Crist endorsed John McCain in the 2008 primary. That was believed to be a key moment in McCain's road to an eventual victory in Florida over Romney, which, as we need not remind you, led to McCain's eventual nomination.