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Rubio: "Mitt Romney Is No Charlie Crist"

6:38 PM, Jan 24, 2012 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Earlier today, Newt Gingrich hit Mitt Romney for hiring former Charlie Crist staffers. "We discovered last night that Mitt Romney has picked up Charlie Crist’s campaign team,” Gingrich said.  “I thought that sort of told you everything you needed to know about this primary."

Florida senator Marco Rubio will not formally endorse a candidate, but he did push back against Gingrich's comparisons between Crist and Romney today. The Miami Herald's Marc Caputo reports:

Said Rubio: "Mitt Romney is no Charlie Crist. Romney is a conservative. and he was one of the first national Republican leaders to endorse me. He came to Florida, campaigned hard for me, and made a real difference in my race."

Former Rubio loyalists work for both camps, namely Jose Mallea (Gingrich's Florida campaign manager) and Alberto Martinez (a Romney senior adviser in Florida). One difference: Martinez never worked for Crist. Martinez was a top staffer in the state House Republican office in 2007-2008 when Rubio was House Speaker and clashed with Crist over property tax cuts and gambling.

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