Earlier this afternoon, I participated in a conference call with Marco Rubio, who has focused more of late on networking and fundraising than high-profile campaigning. Even so, the last Rasmussen poll shows Rubio retaking a narrow lead among likely voters, and Charlie Crist’s latest grandstanding stunt could be backfiring. It certainly has with Crist appointee Senator George LeMieux, who today endorsed Marco Rubio. The strategy has also been effective, as Rubio’s campaign raised $4.5 million in the second quarter, blowing away Kendrick Meek’s $1 million.
Rubio started with a brief introduction, saying that “we’re very happy with the direction of my campaign.” He expressed the need for a strong check on the Obama administration. Rubio hit at the uncertainties created by the White House and Congress in the economy, and said they had made it “difficult to invest” in American industry. Rubio said an announcement would come tomorrow on a proposal to create a Gulf enterprise zone to restore economic health to the region, and blasted politicians taking “photo op opportunities” rather than work for real improvement.
- A vessel is heading to Israel to run the Gaza blockade; cuts to the Coast Guard? – Nation spends 4% of GDP on defense, including CG, and the administration wants to push it down to 3%. Reallocating funds away from defense is “a dramatic mistake,” Rubio says, and cutting CG funds means Obama is “not committing to national security.” The White House has placed Israel in a bad position; they’re “everything we hope for in that region,” a free-market democracy. The vacillating response creates doubt about our relationship, which creates more violence.
- A question about the Gulf response elicited a response from Rubio that the top-down effort didn’t work. We should have taken a “Manhattan Project” approach, and an “all-hands-on-deck” response. Instead of waiting until the oil hit the beaches, we should have had “every skimmer in the world” from the beginning.
- My question: LeMieux’s endorsement; fundraising – “Pleased with the result” and confirms the $4.5 million figure; 75K donors 99% of donors are not maxed out, average donation of less than $90. Very happy with LeMieux’s assistance in both the Gulf and the campaign.
- Prefer Meek or Greene in the race? – Doesn’t matter, Rubio says. “Meek is principled,” Rubio says, “his principles are different than mine, is all.” Of all the other candidates, Rubio’s the only one that won’t carry Barack Obama’s, Harry Reid’s, Nancy Pelosi’s water on Capitol Hill.
- Is Crist using his office for political gain? – “I don’t see how anyone could see it differently,” Rubio said. The special session is wasting taxpayer money in its ostensible purpose of making off-shore drilling illegal, since it’s already illegal in Florida. Too many people have wanted to be something rather than do something, Rubio says, and he’s tired of it.