From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
Gov. Charlie Crist's campaign is again trying to quash speculation that he will run as an independent and again blames the Marco Rubio campaign for spreading the rumor.
"To put these rumors to rest once and for all, as we have said countless times before, Governor Crist is running for the United States Senate as a Republican," Crist Campaign Manager Eric Eikenberg said. "He will not run as an Independent or as a No Party Affiliation."
The campaign in its release said the rumors are the result of "the Rubio campaign's continual attempts to distract voters from the Speaker's lengthy legislative record."
Here's the full statement:
"Speaker Rubio and his campaign have spent this entire race trying to distract voters from learning about his actual record, whether it be his votes for tax increases, support for cap and trade and a carbon tax, his flip flop on immigration reform, or his questionable financial dealings.
"The fact of the matter is, Speaker Rubio double billed taxpayers for flights, charged everything from his family reunion to car repairs to the Republican Party, and used political committees as his personal slush fund – so it should come as no surprise that he and his campaign will try whatever methods possible to change the subject as voters begin scrutinizing his record.
"Instead of being open and honest with voters and owning up to the thousands of dollars that remain unaccounted for from his political committees and releasing his tax returns, the Rubio campaign would prefer to spread baseless rumors.
"To put these rumors to rest once and for all, as we have said countless times before, Governor Crist is running for the United States Senate as a Republican. He will not run as an Independent or as a No Party Affiliation.
"The Governor is proud of his conservative credentials and stands firmly behind the principles of limited government and more personal freedom, the bedrock values of the Republican Party. He is proud to be a member of the Party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan.
"This should completely and utterly put to rest any of the unfounded rumors coming from the Rubio campaign that Governor Crist would run as anything other than the Republican that he is."
*** UPDATE *** The Rubio campaign has put out this tough statement in response: "The Crist campaign has no one to blame but Charlie Crist for the uncertainty he has caused regarding his future in the Republican Party. Whether it's Charlie Crist's well documented history of breaking promises or his abandonment of Republican principles on key issues, it should come as no surprise that so many people are no longer willing to take him at his word. Floridians know they can't rely on what Governor Crist says anymore, but have to watch what he actually does.
"The fact that his campaign, not Charlie Crist himself, issued today's latest denial is telling in and of itself. Nonetheless, Charlie Crist has an opportunity to put all this to rest by officially filing for the Republican primary as early as April 26."