Leading GOP Senator: Rubio's the "Favorite"

Sen. Jim DeMint from South Carolina is one of the most conservative members of Congress, but it's still something of a coup that he endorsed the most conservative contender in Florida's Senate race, Marco Rubio.

That's because in doing so, DeMint is defying the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which endorsed Charlie Crist in virtually the same breath as the governor announced his candidacy last month. The chair of the committee, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, has defended that controversial decision by saying that Crist represents the party's most "realistic" chance of winning the 2010 election, which implies that Rubio's bid is unrealistic. Polls seem to agree, the latest of which puts Crist at 54 percent of the Republican vote and Rubio at 23.

A conservative blog, Right Wing News, asked DeMint to comment on the lopsided early polls. He said:

I was in the same situation myself and I won and not only do I think Marco Rubio can win, I think he's the favorite. I think he has ideas that are much more powerful than the politicians. I think the people in Florida are going to move towards his message.

As a recent article in Slate points out, the Republican Party has acknowledged its need for ideas, but its snubbing of the Rubio campaign suggests that it'll sacrifice an ideas guy for the sake of a candidate, like Crist, who appeals to swing voters and conservative Democrats.

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