The Crist/Rubio match up in Florida is heating up with the arrival of new campaign manager Eric Eikenberg in the Crist camp.
Via Memeorandum, the National Journal's On Call reports that the Crist campaign is going on the offensive, challenging Rubio's "failure to advance some conservative causes while leading the state House, for spending excessively while in the Speaker's office and for dragging his feet on immigration legislation that many Republicans favored."
Eikenberg said, ""Over the last five to six months, the governor has been focused on governing and our opponent's been running around the state because he doesn't have an office," Eikenberg said.
Meanwhile, Rubio "has had five to six months of the ability to go around and say whatever he'd like, and that's now changing."
The Rubio campaign responded by requesting debates between Rubio and Crist with the first suggested date of December 17. In a letter to Eikenberg yesterday, Rubio adviser Pat Shortridge pointed out that Rubio had challenged Crist to a series of debates earlier this year, saying "At that time, Marco acknowledged the differences that exist between him and Governor Crist on issues like wasteful stimulus spending that has failed to create jobs, cap-and-trade, property tax reform, judicial appointments, property insurance and a struggling Florida economy that has seen unemployment rise to a 34-year high. Marco expressed his belief that several debates would help bring these and other differences to light. Unfortunately, Governor Crist has shown no interest in debating Marco thus far."
Rubio has closed the gap to just a 15 point lead in the latest Qunnipiac poll, down from an earlier 29 point lead. Rubio continues to pound Crist in straw polls all over the state, the most recent by the Republican Club of South Sarasota County in which Rubio tops Crist 70.2% to 16.5%.
Eikenberg formerly served for four years as chief of staff to former Republican Congressman Clay Shaw of Fort Lauderdale and has recently served as Crist's gubernatorial chief of staff. Eikenberg speaks of “Charlie Crist’s brand of common-sense conservatism," but I don't think that's the kind of conservatism we need in the Senate. I don't think Florida really thinks so, either. If common-sense conservatism means supporting Obama's Stimulus plan, for one thing, well, no thanks. Charlie's support of cap and trade is "common sense"? Nope, again.
According to The Buzz, Rubio isn't worried about the addition of Eikenberg to the Crist team. Rubio supporters point to his work on the campaigns for both Clay Shaw and George LeMieux. They both lost.
(Cross posted at And So it Goes in Shreveport)