A lesson in primary vs. general election campaigning for Greg Sargent

Here’s liberal Greg Sargent on the primary battle between conservative Republican (and former FL House Speaker) Marc Rubio and moderate Republican (and Gov. of FL) Charlie Crist for Mel Martinez’s Senate seat (via Memeo):

Barely moments after the news broke that Governor and stimulus-supporter Charlie Crist has entered the Florida GOP primary, his conservative opponent already has a new ad attacking him — with an image of President Obama, whose performance is supported by strong majorities and by Independents.

It’s unclear where the spot’s running, but it’s remarkable that Crist’s conservative opponent, former House Speaker Marco Rubio, is already moving to capitalize on the fact that Crist is taking heat from the right for backing Obama’s stimulus package, and using the image of Obama to do it.

[…]

It then flashes a picture of Crist with Obama, and says: “Today, too many politicians embrace Washington’s same old broken ways — but this time, there’s a leader who won’t.” The spot is implicitly claiming that Obama represents more of the same, even though majorities say he’s brought change to Washington.

It isn’t every day that a politician seeks to turn a race into a referendum on his opponent’s support for a President with an approval rating in the 60s, but these aren’t ordinary times for today’s GOP.

Um, um – but this is a Republican primary, not a general election campaign. Why is it “remarkable” that a conservative Republican would run an ad not only criticizing Republican support for any billion dollar stimulus package, but also associating that approval with support for a Democrat president who is unpopular with … (drumroll) Republicans?

I don’t know much about Rubio, but I do know that typically the way both sides play campaigns is that during the primary battles they do their best to try and appeal to their base of supporters. It’s during the general election when they take on more moderate tones to appeal to more than just the base in hopes of winning over enough votes to get elected.

You know – like Barack Obama did. 8-|

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