Rubio Vows He’s Staying in Senate Race

Posted July 22, 2009 at 6:27pm

Former Florida Speaker Marco Rubio (R) said Wednesday afternoon that the endorsement of the well-funded anti-tax group the Club for Growth would be important, but not necessary, in his uphill Senate primary against Gov. Charlie Crist (R).

“We’d love to earn their support,— Rubio said of the club. “I think we’re aligned on most our principles and ideology so it’s a natural fit in terms of public policy. … I don’t think it’s a must-have, but I think it’s an important-have and one we’ll continue to work on.—

Rubio was outraised by Crist in the second quarter by a staggering $4 million. That disparity led to some speculation last week that the former state Speaker might drop his Senate bid and run instead for a lower statewide office.

Rubio denied reports that he had been looking to get out of the Senate race. He said that he is committed to his Senate campaign and that his grass-roots fundraising program just needs time to grow.

“When you run for office having never run statewide before, it takes time to build up not only a voter base but a donor base,— he said. “I never felt we needed to raise as much money as Charlie Crist. We just need to raise enough money to tell my story.—

Rubio is a social and fiscal conservative who is running to the right of Crist.

Asked Wednesday if he thought his presence in the race has forced Crist — who supported President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan — to take more conservative positions, Rubio said, “I hope so.—

But Rubio said he was skeptical about Crist’s announcement this week that he would oppose the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Rubio charged that Crist had named a more liberal judge to the Florida Supreme Court during his time as governor.

“I think your actions speak much louder than words,— he said.

Rubio was in D.C. on Wednesday to attend a fundraiser for the Senate Conservatives Fund political action committee, which has endorsed him in the race. The PAC is chaired by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), one of Rubio’s highest-profile supporters.