On the eve of a pivotal debate in the U.S. Senate race, Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday pulled out a tried-and-true political weapon against frontrunner Marco Rubio: sounding the alarm on Social Security.
Crist's new television ad assails Rubio for advocating an increase in the retirement age to qualify for federal benefits. Social Security, a lifeline in the state's large senior population, is considered sacred ground in Florida politics.
"Work longer, get by on less, that's the Marco Rubio retirement plan," ominously warns the ad, launched on the same day Crist made his second visit to a Pembroke Pines retirement community in as many weeks.
Rubio has, in fact, suggested raising the retirement age to ease the burden on the pension fund but said reforms should affect only younger workers. The ad's lack of context drew a sharp rebuke from one of Rubio's prominent supporters, former Gov. Jeb Bush.
"Charlie Crist should be ashamed of his false attack against Marco Rubio on Social Security," Bush said in a statement released by the Rubio campaign. "Charlie Crist is purposely trying to scare seniors in order to win votes."
The backbiting laid the groundwork for the first live televised debate between Crist, Rubio and Kendrick Meek, to be broadcast at 7 p.m. Wednesday on ABC stations in Florida and moderated by Good Morning America co-anchor George Stephanopoulos.
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