From NBC's Mark Murray
The annual Conservative Political Action Conference kicks off tomorrow morning, and the person giving the first big speech will be none other than conservative wunderkind Marco Rubio (R).
While Rubio's Senate GOP primary opponent, Gov. Charlie Crist, won't be addressing the CPAC confab -- for obvious reasons -- Crist's campaign is firing all of its political guns at Rubio before his speech tomorrow.
For starters, the Crist campaign has mailed political reporters a packet of news clippings -- as well as a DVD -- questioning his conservative bona fides and pointing out his past career as a lobbyist. "I think you will find that there is good reason Speaker Rubio continues to try and hide his record: Facts are stubborn things, and they show the real Marco Rubio is a far cry from who he claims to be on the campaign trail," said Crist communications director Andrea Saul.
And now the Crist campaign fires off this mock draft of Rubio's speech:
Good morning. Thank you for that warm welcome and the opportunity to speak to you about why I'm running for the U.S. Senate. [WAIT FOR APPLAUSE]
Since my campaign began, I've had the privilege of becoming the latest cover boy. Ask my lobbyist colleagues -- I'm a capitalist (at least when it comes to benefitting financially while claiming to serve the people of Florida). And, capitalizing on that wave, I have successfully painted myself as a political outsider. Our success in convincing voters that I am a new voice in Florida politics is surprising even to me. It seems that people are quick to forget (and I certainly won't remind them!) that I was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2000 and rose through the Republican leadership ranks to become the Speaker of the Florida House. All of this by a spry 36.
I owe most of my recent success from a single photograph. I say, 'image is everything' – and luckily, I found a photo with the Governor of Florida greeting the President of the United States. And Presto! Instant candidacy for moi! Sure, my opponent was aware Florida was facing a $6 billion dollar deficit and supported getting Florida our fair share of federal money. And, sure, I admitted I would have accepted the stimulus money too in a recent interview (Stimulus! See, just like that, I say the word whenever I can). But that's the Magic of Marco – I just back-tracked. I find it's easier to criticize when you are out of office than when you are in office. I'm glad I was not Speaker at that time, or else I would have joined my Republican colleagues in the Florida Legislature and supported the stimulus money for our state, which would have been much harder to back track. That's what you call lucky.