Marco Rubio, Hurting From "Drill, Baby, Drill" Support, Scuffles to Address Leak

Every day that the shattered remains of Deepwater Horizon bleed oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Marco Rubio seems to fall a little farther behind nemesis Charlie Crist in the polls.

The biggest reason: Crist gets to strut around Pensacola Beach every day in rolled-up shirtsleeves, talking about how he has always been opposed to deepwater drilling. 

Rubio, on the other hand, has been a longtime backer of "Drill, Baby, Drill." And out on the campaign trail, he's had a tough time striking the right tenor about the disaster. 

Should he rail against Obama? What about that $20 billion fund for clean-up efforts? And the moratorium on new drilling?

We've been tailing Rubio on the campaign trail this week, and in Tampa delis and Orlando Italian restaurants, he has tried to focus his answers on Obama's performance rather than his own views about drilling (as in the video above, which we shot Monday in Tampa).
"The response has been slow and unorganized," Rubio says before tying the bad job to Obama's usurping response powers from state governments. "It's been a disaster following a disaster."

Yet later in the same event, Rubio tries to temper that message, telling an audience of supporters that he backs Obama's work to extract a $20 billion fund from BP to pay for clean-up efforts and that he believes the president is trying his best to fix the spill.

Is Rubio's attempt to shift the conversation away from his own support for offshore drilling paying off?

Not yet, at least. The most recent polls have Crist ahead in the projected three-way race for Senate. 

And today the New York Times ties Crist's surge to another poll, which shows most voters in Florida now oppose deepwater drilling.

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