From NBC's Mark Murray
WASHINGTON -- In the keynote address at the Conservative Political Action Conference here, Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio stirred the activists in attendance with a speech taking aim at both President Obama and GOP primary opponent Charlie Crist.
Rubio began by mentioning the snow storms that buried Washington more than a week ago.
"Congress couldn't meet to vote on bills," he said to applause. "The president couldn't find a teleprompter" to announce new tax increases, he added. (Ironically, Rubio uttered this line in front of two teleprompters, although it was unclear whether he was using them to deliver his speech.)
Receiving a thunderous applause, Rubio blasted the Obama administration's decision to try some of the suspects linked to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in civilian court.
"We will bring them to justice in a military tribunal in Guantanamo -- not a civilian courtroom in Manhattan," he said when discussing the threat of "radical Islamic terrorism."
Rubio also criticized Crist, who received boos when introducer Sen. Jim DeMint (R) invoked the Florida governor's name.
"The U.S. Senate already has one Arlen Specter too many," Rubio said in a reference to Crist's moderate record.
Crist's campaign responded this way to Rubio's speech: "In the past year, we have all seen the results of allowing a candidate to hide his record behind the veil of a good speech while touting his so-called ideals," said Andrea Saul, Crist's communications director, in a statements. "While Speaker Rubio claims he will not be co-opted by big government, his record as a Miami lobbyist while simultaneously serving in the legislature demonstrates he is willing to be co-opted by much worse."