Politics & Government

Rivals slam Florida's Crist for no comment on Sotomayor, federal issues

Republican Charlie Crist says he's too busy governing Florida to take a stand on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and other federal issues.

But his leading rivals for the U.S. Senate accused him Thursday of ducking tough questions, noting that the governor keeps making time to attend out-of-state fundraisers to pump up his record-setting campaign account.

"If you want to serve as U.S. senator, people deserve to know where you stand on the issues," said Republican Marco Rubio, who opposes Sotomayor's confirmation. "I'm prepared to fly up to Washington and New York to debate him . . . if I have to work around his fundraising schedule."

The front-running Democratic candidate, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, also called on Crist Thursday to weigh in on the Supreme Court nominee.

"Florida needs a senator who studies the issues of the day and stakes out principled positions rooted in conviction," Meek said in a fundraising appeal that praised Sotomayor. "Our state does not need a fence sitter who is the last person to formulate opinions about issues of profound importance."

Sitting on a double-digit lead in the polls, Crist has limited his campaign activities to attending private fundraisers and heralding endorsements in press releases. In contrast, lesser-known candidates such as Rubio and Meek have been traversing the state to speak at political and civic clubs, Fourth of July picnics and other community events.

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