In an interview with Time, Charlie Crist and his senate campaign manager Eric Eikenberg say that in the face of Marco Rubio's right-wing threat, the Governor new tactic will be to bolster his conservative credentials while casting doubts on Rubio's.
[Crist and Eikenberg] described a counterattack for 2010 that will emphasize Crist's conservative bona fides while casting doubt on those of Rubio -- who recently conceded to a Florida television station that he too would have taken Obama's stimulus money. At the same time, Crist will try to avoid giving the impression -- as he did often this year, especially as he acrobatically tried to distance himself from the stimulus -- that he's cynically apologizing for his moderate principles in order to win conservative voters who may well dominate Florida's closed primary election.
"In the end it's a matter of consistency," Crist admits. "I'm a pro-gun, pro-life, fiscal conservative, but I'm also a pragmatic conservative who thinks it's important to remember what a real conservative like Jack Kemp once said, that the Republican Party should be a big tent."
Yes, Crist may be pro-gun (he signed that wonderful "take your guns to work" law,) but he's not exactly a bonafied pro-lifer or fiscal conservative. He'll forever be haunted on the right by that "change hearts, not laws" quote about abortion, and as every one remembers he more or less endorsed Obama's stimulus package with a friendly man-hug.
Let's consider the wing-nuts, tea baggers and John Birch types lost to the Rubio camp forever. They've been there since the beginning,
and they're not going back. Seems to us that Rubio is now making gains
against Crist not amongst Republicans who carry around a conservative
litmus test in their wallets next to their voter IDs, but amongst
Republicans who just don't think Crist is doing a very good job as
Governor. Those that are sick of his ever-changing nuances on issues
and painfully calculated political positioning. Those that are sick of
seeing the unemployment figures creep up month after month to record
levels. Those that are still wary that Crist is trying to make the jump
from Tallahassee to DC while he still leaves behind unfinished business
he would have had an opportunity to complete in a second term.
listen, trying to present yourself as a died-in-the-wool conservative
is going to come off as fake as if you showed up one morning with jet
black hair. At the end of the day, this is a state that is going to
reward a job done well more than your results on a political ideology
test. What you do to help Florida in your last years in office is going
to be a lot more important to most voters anyway.