(CNN) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is stepping up his attacks on Senate primary opponent Marco Rubio, declaring Rubio's professed conservatism is "the greatest fraud perpetrated on people."
"I won't go negative in this race, that's not my nature, but by the same token, I will not let [Rubio's] façade continue," Crist told the National Review Online in comments published Thursday. "When this guy calls himself the real conservative in the race, I've got to point out that it's the opposite."
Crist, the popular GOP governor who is mounting a bid for Senate and has won the endorsement of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, finds himself locked in a tight race with Rubio, the former Florida House Speaker.
Once little known throughout the state, Rubio steadily climbed in the polls as he embraced the mantle of fiscal conservatism and painted Crist as a moderate too willing to spend taxpayer dollars.
But referencing a recent report that Rubio used a Florida Republican Party credit card for personal expenditures, Crist dubbed him "one of the most irresponsible spenders I've ever seen."
"He talks about how we need to spend less in Washington, but he sure seems to like spending other people's money," he told the Web site.
Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos called Crist's claim of frugality the governor's "latest reinvention."
"When he endorsed and campaigned for the $787 billion stimulus, Floridians saw firsthand how Charlie Crist's personal frugality does not translate into fiscal restraint with taxpayer money," Burgos said.
(CNN) - Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-New York, went on the offense while speaking with CNN's Rick Sanchez.
Telling Sanchez to "write this down," Weiner said Republicans do not want the health care overhaul to succeed, in part because "the health care industry is one of their biggest benefactors."
Pressed by Sanchez, Weiner allowed that Democrats also receive money from the health industry but held strong to his initial assertion. CNN Fact Check Desk wondered: Where does the money go?
Fact Check: Which party has received more money from the health care sector?
Washington (CNN) - Will Sarah Palin and her family be starring in a new reality television series? Not quite, a source close to the former Alaska governor tells CNN.
While Palin and famed reality TV producer Mark Burnett are in New York and Los Angeles this week meeting with six networks about a new series - a story first reported Wednesday by Entertainment Weekly - the source emphasized that the show would be a "Planet Earth-style" documentary about Alaska.
Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, will likely be featured in the show, the source said. But the source added that "it's not going to be focused on her family, or in her house, or in Wasilla.
"She is just going to use her name to help produce and promote the show," said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The source said Palin is following up on her promise last summer, when she resigned from the governor's office, to find new ways to shine a light on her home state.
"This is not 'The Osbournes Go North'," said the source, referencing the MTV reality show that featured rock singer Ozzy Osbourne's family. "This is not a reality show based on the Palins."
UPDATE: The six television networks meeting with Palin and Burnett are CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, A&E and The History Channel.
Washington (CNN) – Rep. Sander Levin, D-Michigan, has been named as acting chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, a committee spokesman said Thursday.
Levin replaces Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-New York, who temporarily stepped aside Wednesday until the conclusion of an ongoing ethics investigation.
“The honorable the Speaker, House of Representatives, Madam, I hereby resign as acting chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means," read a letter written by Stark.
The Ways and Means Committee is responsible for crafting tax legislation.
– CNN's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report
Washington (CNN) – Sen. Blanche Lincoln, the two-term Arkansas senator, is using her first television ad of the 2010 primary season to paint herself as a Washington outsider not beholden to her own party.
The ad, which features a classroom full of kindergarten-aged children engaged in a playtime squabble with plastic baseball bats and throwing paper money into the air, depicts Washington politicians as irresponsible, ineffective legislators.
"That's why I voted against giving more money to Wall Street, against the auto company bailout, against the public option health care plan and against the cap and trade bill that would have raised energy costs on Arkansans," Lincoln says in the ad.
"Some in my party didn't like it very much," Lincoln continued. "…I don't answer to my party. I answer to Arkansas."
(CNN) - Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose 2009 memoir "Going Rogue" remains a New York Times bestseller four months after it was released, has signed on to write a book about "America's virtues and strengths."
The yet-to-be-named book - appearing to have trappings fit for an aspiring political candidate - will be a reflection on "the key values - both national and spiritual - that have been such a profound part of her life and which continue to inform her vision of the future," according to publisher Harper Collins.
The book will also feature "selections from classic and contemporary readings" that have inspired the former Republican vice presidential nominee.
CNN.com is scheduled Thursday to carry three political briefings live:
11 a.m. ET – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Watch it live.
11:45 a.m. ET – House Minority Leader John Boehner: Watch it live.
1 p.m. ET – White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: Watch it live.
Follow Mark Preston on Twitter: @prestoncnn
Washington (CNN) - Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak says he will bring down the final health care bill if abortion language isn't modified.
In an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Stupak said he wants to see health care reform pass, but that some of the provisions in the Senate bill are unacceptable.
"The bill that they are using as the vehicle is the Senate bill. If you go to page 2069 through page 2078, you would find in there the federal government would directly subsidize abortions ... We're not going to vote for this bill with that kind of language in there."
The House narrowly passed its version of health care reform only after Stupak's abortion language was adopted.
When asked if he was willing to live with the consequences of bringing down the bill, Stupak said, "Yes, we're prepared to take responsibility. I mean, I've been catching it ever since last fall. I mean let's face it, I want to see health care. But we're not going to bypass some principles and beliefs that we feel strongly about."
(CNN) - Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, and Alan Grayson, D-Florida, engaged in a spirited debate on health care reform Wednesday night on CNN's Larry King Live.
Specifically, the two squared off over whether the tactic of reconciliation - requiring only a simple majority to pass the measure - should be used.
"That's not how the Senate works," Bachmann said. "The Senate works with 60 votes, and now what the president is promoting is a nuclear option which is 50 votes."
Grayson replied: "There's nothing in the Senate rules that prevents reconciliation. It's been used 22 times overall and 14 times by Republicans. If it's good enough to provide tax cuts for the rich - twice under Bush - it's good enough to provide health care for all Americans."
Washington (CNN) - Rep. Eric Massa, D-New York, denied reports Wednesday that he harassed one of his Capitol Hill staffers - announcing, however, that he would not seek re-election because of health concerns.
A spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer acknowledged that allegations of misconduct against Massa, 50, were under review by the House Ethics Committee.
Hoyer spokeswoman Katie Grant said that a member of Massa's staff told Hoyer's staff about the allegations, and Hoyer gave the retired Navy commander 48 hours to take the matter to the Ethics Committee.
"Within 48 hours, Mr. Hoyer received confirmation from both the Ethics Committee staff and Mr. Massa's staff that the Ethics Committee had been contacted and would review the allegations," Grant said. "Mr. Hoyer does not know whether the allegations are true or false, but wanted to ensure that the bipartisan committee charged with overseeing conduct of members was immediately involved to determine the facts."
The online journal Politico reported earlier Wednesday that Massa was stepping down "amid allegations he sexually harassed a male staffer," and a senior Democratic aide later told CNN that the allegations involved a male staffer who was made to feel uncomfortable.
The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions among staff were private on a sensitive matter and because of the ongoing Ethics Committee investigation, said the allegation involved "a sexual implication."