As I noted last week, a recent string of stories (like this one and this one) about Marco Rubio's lavish spending has provided Florida Gov. Charlie Crist his best opportunity so far to change the momentum in their race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Well, lo and behold, Crist came out today with a new TV ad that hammers Rubio on these issues and more. "We thought he was different," the announcer says, with faux lament. "Ideologically pure . . . 'the Republican Obama.' " But, the announcer continues, "Now comes the truth. Rubio was a registered lobbyist. His income skyrocketed while his power increased." Then the ad quotes a St. Petersburg Times editorial that blasts his spending habits: "He looks awfully like a veteran insider who manipulated the system."
It's pretty hard-hitting stuff, but count on seeing more of it. The spending issue has the potential to undermine the main argument Rubio has been hammering home from the beginning of his campaign: his supposed fiscal restraint. So far, the polling shows he hasn't taken a hit from this latest flurry of controversies. The latest Rasmussen poll has him leading Crist by 22 points—consistent with other polls in the past few months. But the spending issues aren't going away. Yet another piece by The Miami Herald and the St. Petersburg Times yesterday raised questions about charges to a GOP-issued credit card belonging to Rubio's chief of staff when he was speaker of the Florida House. Either Rubio & Co. had really bad accountants or we're seeing the markings of a trend here. Stay tuned.