Florida Senate Debate

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Sep 20, 2010 11:48 AM
Florida Senate candidates Marco Rubio, Charlie Crist, and Kendrick Meek went head-to-head in one of the biggest electoral debates of the year on Friday, with immigration as a central focus. The Spanish language channel Univision hosted the event, and it wasn't entirely clear who came out on top. It's clear, though, that Rubio had the most to lose, and he didn't lose anything at all -- immigration is his weakest issue, and he still fielded the questions pretty well. Both Meek and Crist favor amnesty for immigrants, but even as a Cuban immigrant himself, Rubio managed to hold his ground. He also got a money shot in when talking about Crist's party-switch:
You only changed parties and did this independent thing when you couldn’t win the Republican primary...And now you wake up everyday and you try to figure out what can you say or do to take more votes away from Congressman Meek so more Democrats will vote for you. But everybody sees it for what it is, everybody gets it. So I think we owe voters more respect than that.
Conveniently, Crist said he would not have supported the health care bill, an issue he has flipped on repeatedly during the course of the campaign. It was held at 11pm on a Friday night, making viewership somewhat low -- though, the Spanish-speaking world does operate on a later timetable than most.

Last week, the DCCC -- pulling for Meek -- cut Crist loose, running attack ads against him despite his extensive courtship of the Democratic Party. Until now, the DCCC had only been attacking Rubio. These new ads signal a significant hurdle for the Governor, given that the Party he hoped would take him in is now clearly out of the picture.