.- A pro-life Catholic is now even in the polls with incumbent Gov. Charlie Crist in the Florida Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate.
A Rasmussen poll of likely GOP primary voters reports that Marco Rubio, a 38-year-old Cuban-American from Miami, is running even with Crist at 43 percent. In August, 53 percent said they supported Crist.
According to Rasmussen Reports, Crist angered many conservatives when he endorsed President Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package.
The Republican establishment has backed Crist, but former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, and former Bush adviser Karl Rove are among Rubio’s supporters.
Crist has supported a ban on partial-birth abortion. In January 2009 he vetoed a proposed $500,000 cut to crisis pregnancy centers. He initially described himself as pro-choice, but declared himself to be pro-life before running for governor in 2006. He also previously supported state funding for human embryonic stem cell research.
However, Crist later altered this position and recommended $20 million in funding for adult stem cell research. He approved embryonic stem cell research only on the cell lines approved under President George W. Bush’s restrictions.
Rubio describes himself on his campaign website as pro-life. He notes his past legislative proposals to require an ultrasound before an abortion and to ban the use of taxpayer dollars to “fund stem cell research.”
He also voices concerns on his site about Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s testimony regarding “the so-called constitutional right to privacy that resulted in the Roe v. Wade decision.”
Catholic political analyst Deal Hudson, writing at InsideCatholic.com, has described Rubio as having a self-effacing manner and the “dash and charm of a young man.” He also called the candidate a “seasoned politician” with eight years in the Florida legislature, where he was Majority Leader and Speaker of the House.