I think George Will likes Marco Rubio.
In his column today, Will writes, "In January 2011, one Floridian will leave for the U.S. Senate. He is unlikely to be a former governor at odds with his party's nominating electorate, or the probable Democratic nominee, Kendrick Meek, a hyper-liberal congressman. Rubio intends to prove that 'in the most important swing state, you can run successfully as a principled conservative.' He probably will."
Will points out that Crist has made several poor decisions for Florida; one problematic and risky one was his government run property insurance program which has "driven private insurers to limit their business or even stop doing business in the state." When the next big hurricane hits, guess who is going to be on the hook for the bill?
For his part, Rubio understands how the Republicans got in trouble in the first place. In a speech this week he criticized Republican spending during the Bush years and their misdirection with regard to real reform and conservative principles. KeysNet covered Rubio's speech in Key Largo and noted that "Rubio said neither former President George W. Bush or congressional Republicans seriously pushed for what he considers real reform measures — term limits, a simplification of the federal tax code and the elimination of the capital gains tax."
Tomorrow's St. Petersburg Times has a recap of the straw polls to date:
Here are the votes taken so far:
Marion County GOP, Rubio 40, Crist 8, abstain 4;
Hernando County GOP, Rubio 46, Crist 0;
Gilchrist County GOP, Rubio 11, Crist 1;
Republican Women's Club of Duval Federated, Rubio 65, Crist 4;
Northwest Orange Republican Women Federated, Rubio 49, Crist 3;
Jefferson County GOP, Rubio 30, Crist 6;
Highlands County GOP, Rubio 75, Crist 1;
Pasco County GOP, Rubio 73, Crist 9;
Lee County GOP, Rubio 60, Crist 9;
Florida Federation of College Republicans, Rubio 19, Crist 6;
Bay County GOP, Rubio 23, Crist 2.
I know straw polls aren't scientific, but there's a pretty clear pattern here.
Making a tennis analogy, George Will referred to the NRSC's early endorsement of Crist as an "unforced error." It certainly suggests that the NRSC is as out of touch with the base as Crist seems to be if the straw polls are to be trusted.
(Cross posted at And So it Goes in Shreveport)