Giuliani: GOP Needs Marco Rubio

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he endorsed Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio because of his strong conservative credentials and not because of a grudge against Gov. Charlie Crist.

While the media has focused on Giuliani’s endorsement as a way of getting even with Crist for his 2008 backing of John McCain in the presidential GOP primary, the former mayor, who was also running in the 2008 race, says his support would have gone to Rubio regardless of that history.

“Whether I did have a history or not with Gov. Crist in terms of his having broken his word, I’d be supporting Marco in any event,” Giuliani said, in a conference call with bloggers.

Giuliani believes the media’s focus on the payback angle is an attempt to detract from the issues of the campaign.

“A lot of things there that go into [an endorsement] have absolutely nothing to do with whether Charlie Crist broke his word with me on several occasions—he did, that’s the reality, that’s the truth,” Giuliani said. “I think the emphasis on whether Charlie broke his word or didn’t break his word is really intended to take some focus away from the positive nature of this.”

Giuliani, who said he’s known Rubio for several years, called him the kind of “new blood” that the Republican Party needs: a candidate who voters can trust to stand up against government spending, promote economic growth, and keep America safe against terrorism.

“Marco has shown throughout his career that he can be trusted,” Giuliani said. “This is a big race for defining what the Republican Party can accomplish in this election year and then in the future.”

Giuliani’s endorsement adds a nationally recognized voice of authority on national security issues to Rubio’s campaign. Though Giuliani is usually considered more of a political moderate than a bread-and-butter conservative like Rubio, Giuliani doesn’t seem to think the endorsement should raise any eyebrows.

“It says that I see myself as a very strong Republican,” Giuliani said, pointing out he was active in the Virginia campaign for Gov. Bob McDonnell, a recognized conservative.

He said Rubio fits the profile of candidates he’s endorsed in the past, those that promote restraint in spending, limited government, and strong national defense. He said he will be campaigning for Rubio in Miami.

Rubio, in turn, praised Giuliani for his pro-growth economic policies in New York City and called the former mayor “a leader in our party.”

Giuliani joins a growing list of high-profile Republicans who have endorsed Rubio, including Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) and Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.).