Marco Rubio announced Friday that Rudy Giuliani endorsed his campaign for Senate. The two will campaign today in Coral Gables.The political press has interpreted this as a snub of the governor, because Charlie Crist endorsed John McCain for president in 2008. Not one, not two, but a million pundits went for the Rudy-is-a-catty-bitch angle, making him the Gretchen Wieners of the Florida GOP primary race.
Giuliani was an important get because he's one of the remaining meganovas in the GOP. He burnishes Rubio's tough-guy credentials and could have revived Crist's flatlining campaign. Instead, the governor is stuck with Bud Day, the ornery Swift Boater who endorsed him last week and was revealed to be an ornery bigot. Point: Marco.
With the Giuliani endorsement, America's punditry rushed to its ratty VHS copies of Mean Girls. Politico gushed with a "Payback" headline, and Time's Mark Halperin went with "Payback Is Swell." CNN was more dubious: "Giuliani's Payback?" We didn't check with Drudge Report, but one suspects there was a GIF fire alarm next to Rubio's avatar.
Why the hubbub? Back in 2007, America's mayor banked on Florida to save his faltering presidential campaign, and he asked for Crist's endorsement. From Halperin's own gleeful take on the 2008 race, "Game Change":
Jim Greer, [Crist's] handpicked Florida state party chairman, started actively exploring what the governor could receive in return for an endorsement, suggesting to Giuliani direct that "a right of first refusal on the VP slot might do the trick. The Charlie Bazaar was open for business.
Giuliani was receptive to that idea, and Crist pledged to support him. But then McCain's poll numbers began improving, and Crist backed off, saying McCain had supported him in the governor's primary a year earlier and he couldn't abandon his friend. According to "Game Change": "Crist's intervention propelled McCain to a five-point win in Florida. The other Republican candidates and their advisers may have seen Charlie as a liar, a manipulator, and a no-account betrayer, but he was all-right with John."
Like a spurned tween, Giuliani still holds a grudge. Since 2003, he has been slumming it as an inspirational speaker for the weirdly evangelical business seminars Get Motivated (Sarah Palin is another alum). Right now, he's in the middle of a speaking tour that will take him to New Orleans April 13 and St. Petersburg April 25. For each gig, he gets $100,000, and he's taking time out -- pro bono -- only for Marco.
Expect the event in Coral Gables to be wall-to-wall with terrible spellers, Tea Partiers, and Michele Bachman fans (Facebook RSVP here!). But if you don't catch Giuliani, you can always catch him at his pep rally in St. Pete: only $4.95 per person or $19 for your entire office.