Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush slammed Gov. Charlie Crist for accusing Republican Senate opponent Marco Rubio in a new ad of wanting to balance the budget on the backs of seniors by raising the Social Security retirement age.
“Charlie Crist should be ashamed of his false attack against Marco Rubio on Social Security,” Bush said in a statement released Tuesday. “Charlie Crist is purposely trying to scare seniors in order to win votes.
“The fact is, Marco Rubio will protect Social Security. His own mother relies on Social Security and he has repeatedly stated that he would not support or propose any benefit reductions for current retirees or people who are close to retirement.”
Bush said Crist used to believe that scaring seniors to win votes was wrong.
“I know this firsthand because, in 1995, he spoke out forcefully in my defense when the very same kind of false attacks were made against me,” Bush said. “It is sad that he has become so enamored with winning political office that he has abandoned the very principles that steered him into public service in the first place. I am disappointed, but can’t say I am surprised.”
Bush said Rubio was portrayed dishonestly in the ad as threatening to destroy the program when, in fact, Rubio merely wants to reform it. The ad, which began airing Tuesday, asserted that a vote for Rubio is a vote for working longer and getting by on less in retirement-rich Florida.
“That’s the Marco Rubio retirement plan,” the voiceover on the ad says. “Rubio wants to raise the Social Security retirement age. That means you’ll work harder and longer for your money. Rubio wants to cut benefits, though it’s already tough enough to make ends meet. That’s Washington for you. Balance the budget on the backs of seniors. Charlie Crist is against raising the retirement age. He’ll protect Social Security because our seniors have earned it.”
Rubio has discussed reforming the program, but has always said that any changes would not affect anybody 55 or younger. His campaign issued a full response Tuesday by calling the Crist spot a “desperate false attack ad” designed to deceive Florida seniors.
“Charlie Crist’s new ad is not only false, it also shows there’s no voter he won’t pander to and no senior he won’t scare just to win votes,” said Alex Burgos, Rubio for Senate spokesman.
“Charlie Crist used to crusade against the senior scare tactics liberals used against Jeb Bush, but now that he’s trailing in the polls, desperate and lacking a serious Social Security plan, he’s adopted the same despicable tactics that are meant to deceive seniors and ultimately threaten Social Security’s future.”
Crist is running as an independent against Rubio and Democratic challenger Kendrick Meek for the Florida Senate seat. According to the latest Zogby poll released Tuesday, Crist trails Rubio by a margin of 39.2 percent to 33 percent, but is ahead of Meek at 17.6 percent. The three will debate tonight.
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