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Rubio: I've Always Distinguished Between Campaigning for Stimulus and Accepting Funds

6:10 PM, Dec 10, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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David Frum wrote in the CNN column linked below that "Rubio has suggested that he would have refused the federal stimulus dollars and instead cut up to $6 billion out of the $65 billion state budget."

But Rubio does not say in the YouTube video linked in the CNN column--as Frum suggests--that as governor he would have refused the stimulus dollars once the bill had already been passed. Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos writes in an email that Rubio has "always drawn a clear distinction between supporting passage of the stimulus (as Crist did) versus reluctantly accepting funds after it passed."

In fact, Rubio told me during an interview last spring before he had even announced his candidacy: "It's one thing to say you'll accept the funds from the federal government. It's another to actively advocate those policies, which I think are disastrous for America."

Many conservatives who want to privatize Social Security nonetheless accept Social Security checks. This isn't hypocrisy--since they're already paying for it, they might as well get their share. The same is true of accepting stimulus funds (unless accepting those funds puts the state on the hook for even more spending). As Rubio said on TV yesterday: "Ultimately I would have accepted those portions of the money that would not have put Florida in a worse position off in the future than it is right now."

Rubio issued a statement today about his record on the stimulus:

"Charlie Crist campaigned with President Obama in support of the $787 billion stimulus spending bill and pressured Florida's congressional delegation to vote for it. And if he had been in the U.S. Senate, he would have voted for it.

"Unlike Charlie Crist, I do not believe we can deficit spend our way into prosperity. I would have stood up to the Obama-Crist stimulus package and offered a clear alternative in the form of permanent tax cuts.

"Advocating for the stimulus plan and accepting those dollars are not the same. The stimulus was a disaster and I would have fought it in every way possible. But once President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Charlie Crist mandated their mountain of debt, I have said I would have handled the stimulus money the same way real conservative governors like Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin and Haley Barbour have.

"The difference is clear. Charlie Crist actively advocated for this fiscally irresponsible stimulus policy. At a time when most other prominent Republican governors were fighting Obama's stimulus and offering conservative alternatives, Charlie Crist actually championed the Obama package and helped him pass it. Charlie Crist may not understand what he did wrong or he may just want to forget it, but I'm confident that Florida Republicans won't."