What, did Charlie Crist just not do opposition research on Marco Rubio?

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It does not surprise me that in the latest Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Poll, there was significant skepticism about putting Marco Rubio on the presidential ticket.

“Among more than 100 Florida lobbyists, activists, political operatives and fundraisers who participated in the survey, Rubio was most frequently named as the best pick for vice president, regardless of the nominee,” reports Adam Smith.

Still, three-quarters of respondents did not name Rubio and only 37 percent said he would be a safe pick.

Funny, that’s exactly how I voted in the survey. I actually think Rubio would be the best pick for vice president, regardless of the nominee, but he is far from a safe pick.

Twice now, Marco Rubio’s biography, once regarded as nothing less than the protoypical American success story about the son of immigrants made good, has returned to haunt him.  The first time, it was about when and why Rubio’s parents left Cuba to come to America.  I am not going to re-litigate this matter, other than to say it left a definitive black mark on Rubio’s hagiography.

Hagiography is certainly the right word when talking about the second issue to arise about Rubio’s biography. That’s because the second matter involved Rubio being baptized as a Mormon during his childhood along with other members of his immediate family.

Alex Conant, a spokesman for Rubio, confirmed this story, noting that the senator returned to the Catholic church while they were still living in Las Vegas — when Rubio was about 11. He received his first communion when he was 13, and the family later moved back to Miami.

As a Catholic increasingly questioning the Church (but not my faith), I understand, if not sympathize, with Rubio’s journey of faith.  Because of that, I refuse to re-litigate this issue with Rubio’s biography.

That said, can you imagine the outrage that would be coming from the talk-radio inspired political right if it was discovered Barack Obama had been baptized in a Mormon church when he was 8?

The outrage would be deafening.

That’s why, for all of those convinced the President is a Muslim, unless you are willing to talk about Rubio’s circuitous religious journey, do not talk about some ridiculous conspiracy theory.

Another question I had after reading about this latest revelation about Rubio is, what, did Charlie Crist’s campaign just not do opposition research on Marco Rubio?

Evidently not.  Evidently Eric Eikenberg and George LeMieux and the other maestros running the Crist campaign in 2009 did not take Rubio serious enough to hire someone — anyone — to do a cursory review of Rubio’s life.

Rewind back to the Fall of 2009, when Crist was still liked by a majority of Republicans and Rubio,  behind in the polls, was only beginning to pick up momentum.

If the two stories mentioned above – about Rubio’s parents and his baptism in a Mormon church – had made their way to Marc Caputo and the rest of the Florida’s media, Rubio would have likely been ‘xplaining his way right out of the US Senate race.

Whether you like Crist or not, just think of the stranglehold he still had on the part two-and-a-half years ago.  Armed with these stories, he would have been able to bracket Rubio before the former Speaker could build momentum.

Questions would have been raised.  Rubio’s reactions would have been parsed and studied. And just when he would have been done giving one answer, Crist and Co. would have rolled another log at him.

The controversies over Rubio’s back-waxing and American Express bills would have seemed trivial in the face of all of these questions about biography.  Or they would have been all-the-more damaging because Rubio had already been taking on water.

If only Charlie Crist’s campaign would have paid for a decent oppo researcher.

In fact, if Crist had the opposition research LeMieux is paying for in his race against Connie Mack, perhaps LeMieux would be Crist’s chief-of-staff in D.C. and Rubio would be one helluva an Attorney General…

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.