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Politics

With Meek Attacking Rubio Instead of Crist, Dynamic Changes in U.S. Senate Battle

October 4, 2010 - 6:00pm

With less than a month to go until the general election, the dynamics are changing in the election for the U.S. Senate seat. U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, the Democratic candidate in the race, is turning his fire away from NPA-candidate Charlie Crist, and onto Republican candidate Marco Rubio, the front-runner in the race.

Since winning the nomination in a bitter primary with billionaire investor Jeff Greene in late August, Meek has hammered Crist, looking to keep Democrats from voting for the governor.

But with Rubio ahead by double digits in the polls, with some showing him with an almost 20-point lead over Crist, on Tuesday, Meek focused his attacks on the Republican candidate -- linking the former House speaker to Dick Cheney.

Rubio is maybe the only Senate candidate in the country who paid to have thousands of voters see his own face next to Vice President Dick Cheney -- the same Dick Cheney who eliminated environmental protections so Big Oil billionaires could profit; fought to privatize Social Security; borrowed billions from China to give tax breaks to millionaires, and spent much of his vice presidency traveling from one undisclosed location to the next, wrote the Meek team in a release sent out on Tuesday morning.

Floridians have a clear choice in November, continued the release. While Marco Rubio stands with corporate special interests, Kendrick Meek has fought against these same interests on behalf of middle-class Floridians.

The race had an interesting dynamic in September as both the front-runner Rubio and Meek, who is stuck in third place in the polls, attacked Crist. While not completely ignoring each other, Rubio and Meek focused their attention -- and their heaviest fire -- on Crist.

October seems to be shaping up differently with Meek now joining the governor to attack Rubio.

Crists team unleashed a new commercial on Tuesday attacking Rubio on Social Security. The ad maintains that Rubio will cut Social Security in order to balance the budget.

The Rubio camp responded that the commercial was hypercritical, pointing to Crists record during the mid '90s. In 1994, the campaign team of Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles warned Florida voters that Republican challenger Jeb Bush would slash Social Security funding. Crist, then a member of the state Senate, said that such scare tactics had no place in politics -- leading the Rubio camp to argue that Crist is a hypocrite for now embracing the same tactics.

"Charlie Crist's new ad is not only false, it also shows there's no voter he won't pander to and no senior he won't scare just to win votes, said Alex Burgos, a spokesman for Rubio. Charlie Crist used to crusade against the senior scare tactics liberals used against Jeb Bush, but now that he's trailing in the polls, desperate and lacking a serious Social Security plan, he's adopted the same despicable tactics that are meant to deceive seniors and ultimately threaten Social Security's future."

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

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