Senator Marco Rubio will stump for Republican candidates in Florida and elsewhere this fall but will not harshly criticize the state’s other senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
Rubio told Florida reporters Wednesday that he will campaign for whoever the Republican Party selects to challenge Nelson in the general election, but said he will “never have anything bad to say” about the Democratic senator, the newspaper reported.
The Sun Sentinel laid out Rubio’s balancing act: preserving good relations with Nelson should he win re-election on the one hand, and hoping that Republicans win a majority in the Senate on the other.
"I think the agenda would look a lot different,” Rubio said of the latter possibility. "And I think Florida would be one of those states that would determine that."
Rubio is often mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick on the Republican ticket this fall, though he has downplayed that possibility, saying he doesn’t expect Mitt Romney will select him.
Also on Wednesday, former Gov. Charlie Crist said he is supporting Nelson’s re-election campaign and will vote for him in November.
Crist left the GOP in 2010 during the Senate race in which he was soundly defeated by Rubio. He’s now an independent.
The favorite to win the Aug. 14 Republican primary this time around is Congressman Connie Mack IV. Crist’s decision to support Nelson is at odds with a long history he’s had with the Mack family, going back to 1988, when Crist worked to get Connie Mack III elected to the Senate. Crist has called the elder Mack a mentor throughout his career.
Crist, who plans to attend a Nelson fundraiser Thursday, said he has been a good voice for Florida in Washington.
"Senator Nelson has been a friend, he and Grace both," Crist said, referring to Nelson's wife. "It's no knock on Connie."
Mack’s campaign responded in three words.
“Is anyone surprised?” Mack spokesman David James said.