Marco Rubio personally introduced Rudy Giuliani today in a conference call for bloggers.  He lauded Giuliani as an inspiration and an example of American leadership, and called himself “forever grateful” for Giuliani’s support.

Giuliani started by noting the “dire need” of candidates to stand up to an agenda that seeks a “different destination for America.”  Rubio can be trusted to follow through on the principles he espouses on the campaign trail.  Limiting government spending is the number-one priority, Giuliani said.  The problem has gotten so bad that it will imperil national security, Giuliani says.  Obama and Democrats want to turn America into “a European social democracy,” Giuliani warns, and they’re only beginning the march towards that “different destination,” a phrase Rubio emphasized.

Giuliani didn’t mince words when it comes to Charlie Crist.  Giuliani used Crist’s support of the stimulus package and cap-and-trade to cast him as a supporter of that “different destination”:

  • Me:  People see you as a moderate.  What does this endorsement say about Rubio, and your own position in the party? “I see myself as a very strong Republican.  I support Republican candidates like Marco, pro-growth Republicans who understand how to grow the economy and create jobs.  We have to have strong emphasis on defense.  Marco would fit in with a long line of candidates that I have supported.”
  • What about gun rights?  Rubio is a gun rights advocate: “I agree that the Constitution has a personal right to bear arms.”  Giuliani laughed during this question.
  • Media characterized this as a payback against Crist; was this an attempt to undermine it?  – Giuliani agreed.  “Charlie did break his word,” Giulani says, but that has nothing to do with his endorsement.  Rubio’s the kind of candidate that Giuliani regularly endorses.  “This is exactly the direction the party [needs].”
  • Me:  What do you see in the Tea Party?   “I believe the Tea Party movement is exactly what it appears to be … a reaction to the most liberal, left-wing administration.  … It’s a reaction to a significant shift to the Left.”  Giuliani says it’s “not made up of extremists,” but the normal significant reaction that should be expected from an effort to create an “out-of-control government.”  Every movement has a few people on the fringe that get out of control, but it’s a mainstream reaction to an extremist agenda coming out of Washington.

My own thoughts: The Giuliani endorsement will make things a lot tougher for Charlie Crist, especially in attempts to paint Rubio as a right-wing extremist.  Giuliani has a lot of support in Florida, and that will be one factor, but the biggest boost will come from Giuliani’s pragmatic standing within the party.  Normally, one might expect the pragmatists to attempt to rescue Crist, but this sends a big signal as to where the core of the GOP wants to go in 2010.

Besides which, Giuliani on the stump in Florida is going to be a powerful force for Rubio and against Crist.  He was sharp on this call, and he is a terrific public speaker.  If Crist wants to go third party, Giuliani’s support for Rubio will essentially cut off Crist’s flanking maneuver.