Florida: Huckabee Backs Rubio, Lobs Attack on NRSC

Posted June 24, 2009 at 6:36pm

One day after Gov. Charlie Crist held a fundraiser at National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee endorsed former state Speaker Marco Rubio in the Senate primary and then unloaded on the NRSC’s decision to back Crist in the race.

Rubio is running to the right of Crist, and many conservatives have blasted the NRSC for its early move to get behind Crist.

In an interview with The Hill newspaper, Huckabee said he was “disgusted— about the NRSC’s move to get involved in the contest.

“I thought that their endorsement not only was premature, but was outrageous,— Huckabee said.

Crist’s low-profile NRSC fundraiser on Monday turned out plenty of big-name Republicans.

The event was hosted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (Texas). According to Republicans in attendance, the list of Senators who showed up to support Crist included outgoing Sen. Mel Martinez — whom Crist hopes to replace — Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and 10 others.

NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh said he wasn’t surprised by Huckabee’s endorsement of Rubio, who backed the former Arkansas governor’s 2008 presidential bid.

“It shouldn’t be surprising that that favor would be returned,— he said.

Walsh also brushed off Huckabee’s attack on the NRSC, which is trying to recruit a top-tier candidate to run against Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) next year. If that race were to become competitive, Huckabee could be helpful in the GOP fundraising efforts.