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Rubio vs. Crist: Substance Over Style

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill just hit the shores of Florida beaches, and a new, flashy poll has revealed that more and more Floridians oppose drilling off their shores. But Marco Rubio continues to buck political tides and support offshore drilling in his home state.

“What’s the justification for a moratorium? Because we have reason to believe this could happen somewhere else and we want to make sure that it doesn’t? Then only that amount of time necessary to figure that out,” said the Florida GOP Senate nominee, during a recent interview with CNBC. “Again, we have to understand that it comes with severe economic consequences.”

Rubio is also keen on painting his main opponent, Independent candidate Charlie Crist, as being in lockstep with President Obama’s handling of the spill. Since the spill began, Crist has insisted that Obama has been acting prudently when it come to ensuring that.

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“I think that the administration has gotten up to speed,” Crist told Fox News yesterday. “I am please how they pushed BP, and we have encouraged that.”

Crist has spent many hours since the start of the spill trying to reassure his constituents that he is doing everything in his power to control the disaster, by visiting Florida beaches and holding press conferences wherever he goes. Ironically, he has also called for more skimmer ships, despite President Obama’s rejection of the assistance of foreign skimmer ships into the disaster because of security and environmental concerns.

“I think he’s done a very good job of photo ops, and walks on the beach and these sorts of things,” Rubio said of Crist, at a meeting in Washington. “The governor is not doing enough to pressure Washington, especially when he’s saying the Obama administration is doing a good job.”

“Let me be clear: BP is responsible for the oil spill. But the federal government is by law responsible for the cleanup, and they’ve done a terrible job — taken too long to react, too long to marshall the resources that only the federal government can marshall,” said Rubio.

Currently, the oil has only hit the Pensacola area in force, and Pensacola accounts for a small percentage of Florida tourism. But as the oil creeps further, it could cause further damage to one of the few industries left in the Sunshine State that have been able to weather the recession.

That could cause even more consternation among Florida voters over the handing of the spil. But Rubio deferred when asked whether he expected Crist to begin criticizing Obama if the impact on Florida worsened.

“I can’t predict that... how Crist will react,” said Rubio. “I think clearly he will take any position that will benefit his ability to win the election. That’s his right to do that, but that’s not what’s good for the country, and that’s not what’s good for our state.”

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