If you have not seen the Rubio v. Crist debate on Fox News, you should check it out. A transcript is is here.Right from the start, Charlie Crist tried to put Marco Rubio on the defensive by hitting Rubio with the charge of a $600,000.00 "slush fund", with which Crist accused Rubio of using for personal gain and family employ. Rubio denied it, but Crist kept using it repeatedly.Rubio, however, turned it on Crist.
We are almost 15 minutes into this debate and we have yet to hear a single serious public policy proposal from my opponent. All he wants to talk about is tearing me down, personal attacks, et cetera.He talks about making sense. How does spending $787 billion of money we don't have, money we're borrowing from Chinese and Japanese investors, money that my children and their generation are going to have to work their whole life to pay the interest and the principal on -- how does that in any way make sense for Florida or for our country?
In fact, Crist working with ACORN, supporting the stimulus, appointing liberal judges to the Florida bench, etc. came up throughout the debate. Chris Wallace got Crist to admit his support of the stimulus and defend the position.
Only three Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted for the Obama stimulus when it passed in 2009, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Arlen Specter. Are you saying that if you had been a senator, Republican senator, in the U.S. Senate in 2009 you would have voted for the stimulus?CRIST: Yeah, that's pretty clear. I mean, you know, I think it was the right thing to do at the time. You have to go back and remember what was happening in our economy. It was literally falling off the cliff.I mean, some of these, you know, ideas to try to prop up our economy, frankly, began under the Bush administration, President Bush. It was the TARP. They wanted to make sure our financial institutions did not collapse, that people didn't have to have fear and a run on the banks or something of that nature.And when it came to the stimulus, it was money to help our economy. Things have started to stabilize now and they're getting better in Florida.
Rubio countered that unemployment in Florida went up after the stimulus was passed and it is still at 10%.Rubio, of hispanic descent, even got to the right of Charlie Crist on immigration. Wallace pointed out that Crist wants illegal immigrants counted for the census and supported the McCain amnesty immigration plan. Rubio said
the Republican Party, I think unfortunately, has been cast as the anti-illegal immigration party. It is not the anti-illegal immigration party. It is the pro-legal immigration party. And having a legal immigration system that works begins, as the governor says, with border security.By the way, it's not enough. About a third of the folks in this country illegally enter legally and they overstay visas. And so we've got to deal with that issue as well.We've got to deal with the employment aspect of it, because the vast majority of people who enter this country illegally do so in search of jobs, and jobs are being provided to them. So we need some level of verification system so that employers are required to verify the employment status of their folks.As far as amnesty, that's where the governor and I disagree. He would have voted for the McCain plan. I think that plan is wrong, and the reason why I think it's wrong is that if you grant amnesty, as the governor proposes that we do, in any form, whether it's back of the line or so forth, you will destroy any chance we will ever have of having a legal immigration system that works here in America.
Throughout the debate, Rubio talked policy and hit Crist on his record. Crist kept trying to hit Rubio on the "slush fund," but the hits were weak. Substantive differences came out. The race is no longer about personality. This is a race on real issues.Rubio is right on immigration, spending, balanced budgets, taxes, health care, and opposing Obama. Crist is wrong on all those things.Rubio devoured Charlie Crist yesterday.