Even before he announced his candidacy, Florida Governor Charlie Crist was the darling of the GOP establishment. The National Republican Senatorial Committee endorsed him nearly a year before the August 2010 primary, inciting outrage among Sunshine State conservatives who had hoped to see Florida House speaker Mario Rubio run. Rubio, a camera-ready 38-year-old son of Cuban immigrants, decided to challenge Crist, calling out the moderate GOP governor for his support of President Obama's economic-stimulus plan. Today Rubio is surging, pulling even in fundraising thanks to some help from former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and the antitax group Club for Growth and he's halved his polling gap with Crist from 30 to 15 percentage points. Crist, meanwhile, is doing everything he can to distance himself from his previous support of the stimulus and appearance with Obama.
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