(CNN) - Marco Rubio has opened up a 23 point lead over Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in the battle for the state's Republican Senate nomination, according to a new poll.
But the Quinnipiac University survey of Florida voters, released Thursday, also indicates that Crist, if he chose to run as an independent, would hold a narrow edge in a three-way contest with Rubio and Rep. Kendrick Meek, the Democratic candidate in the race.
Fifty-six percent of Republican voters questioned say they would back Rubio, the former state house speaker, in the GOP senate primary, with 33 percent saying they'd support Crist. Rubio's 23 point advantage is up from a three point margin in January, and it's a reversal from last July, when Crist had a 31 point advantage.
"Anything is possible in politics and we have a long way to go until the August primary, but Rubio's surge against a sitting governor from his own party is similar to Ned Lamont's Democratic primary win over Sen. Joseph Lieberman in Connecticut in 2006," says Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "A year ago, many observers questioned Rubio's sanity for potentially risking his bright future by what most at the time considered a quixotic quest."
A Mason Dixon poll conducted last month for a number of Florida newspapers indicated that Rubio was up 11 points over Crist.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama will order a review of mines with poor safety records after meeting Thursday with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis about the recent explosion that killed 29 people in a West Virginia coal mine, a White House official told CNN.
(CNN) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is explaining his decision to switch his residency to Florida, a move that immediately raised questions about whether he is serious about mounting a second presidential bid in 2012.
Huckabee said in a statement late Wednesday that he and his wife are splitting their time between Arkansas, Florida and New York - where he hosts a talk show on Fox News - "to better accommodate our busy travel schedule and personal business."
"This was a personal decision not a political one," he said. Huckabee and his wife registered in February to vote as Republicans in Florida, where they rent a home, an aide confirmed to CNN.
Politically, Huckabee said, his current focus is on the 2010 midterm elections. "That should be obvious to any political reporter – considering HuckPAC's strong involvement with candidates around the country, our contributions and our nationwide volunteer network," he said.
"It is ridiculous for someone to try and read something into this decision," he continued. "I think it's foolish for political pundits to assume residency in Florida is an indication on my political intentions. As I have repeatedly said, no decision has been made about my political future – and none will be made until after the mid-term elections.
"Only the Lord knows what my future holds and He hasn't told me yet - so I'm positive He hasn't told any political reporters," he said.
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) - The United States needs to do more to reduce demand for illegal drugs if it wants to help reduce the violence that has wracked its southern neighbor, Michelle Obama said Wednesday.
The first lady of the United States made that comment after meeting with her Mexican counterpart, Margarita Zavala de Calderon, whose "New Life Centers" help with prevention and education so that fewer young people will become addicted.
"We need to do more of the same," said Obama, who cited education and opportunity as key elements to any successful anti-drug campaign.
"What we do know in both countries is that, if young people have opportunities, if they know that they're going to get a solid education, perhaps go to college or at least get a job that's going to pay a wage that is going to allow them to live a decent life and care for their families and grandchildren, they're going to make the better choice.
"But so often, in our countries, those opportunities don't exist," she told CNN en Espanol's Juan Carlos Lopez.
(CNN) - Benjamin L. Hooks, a civil rights leader who led the NAACP from 1977 to 1992, has died, said Leila McDowell, the vice president for communication at the NAACP.
The cause of death was not immediately known, McDowell said Thursday.
Hooks was "a vocal campaigner for civil rights in the United States," said the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1925 and grew up in the segregated South.
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CNN: Holder says decision on where to hold 9/11 trial weeks away
Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that the Obama administration would likely decide within weeks where the accused 9/11 conspirators will go on trial.
New York Times: Officials Say Iran Could Make Bomb Fuel in a Year
Two of the nation’s top military officials said Wednesday that Iran could produce bomb-grade fuel for at least one nuclear weapon within a year, but would most likely need two to five years to manufacture a workable atomic bomb. The carefully worded testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee provided the most complete recent public assessment of how much time President Obama and his allies have to head off an Iranian nuclear weapons capability.
Orlando Sentinel: Obama to offer hope to local space workers during KSC visit
When President Barack Obama speaks at Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, he'll offer its 15,000 workers something that's been in short supply lately: hope, or at least a chance that their future won't be as dire as expected. Facing the loss of 9,000 jobs after the space shuttle completes its final three launches, KSC employees have lived for years with a nagging sense of doom because of the uncertainty surrounding the Constellation moon rocket program that was supposed to replace the shuttle.
Washington Times: Bill seeks Afghan pullout timetable
Bipartisan legislation introduced in both houses of Congress on Wednesday would require President Obama to develop a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and increase oversight of private contractors by the inspector-general for Afghan reconstruction. The legislation aims to "enhance our national security and reduce the burden on our armed forces and on taxpayers," the bill's co-sponsors said in a statement.
Bloomberg: China ’Power’ Over Metals for Smart Bombs Prompts U.S. Hearing
U.S. lawmakers called for a hearing after a government report exposed potential “vulnerabilities” for the American military because of its extensive use of Chinese metals in smart bombs, night-vision goggles and radar. China controls 97 percent of production of materials known as rare earth oxides, giving it “market power” over the U.S., the Government Accountability Office said in the report obtained by Bloomberg News before its public release on April 14.
CNN: Sources: Obama expected to make high court pick by early May
The White House search for a new Supreme Court justice is progressing smoothly, say government sources close to the selection process, who expect President Obama to make a decision by early May. The three favorites for the seat continue to receive the most attention among the small group of officials in charge of narrowing a "short list" of about ten names. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, and federal appeals judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland currently have the edge over others being considered, said those sources.
Washington (CNN) - Nearly three-quarters of Americans say that the government wastes their tax dollars, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday also indicates that roughly half the public believes the tax system is unfair, and as a result, four in 10 say they're angry about the amount of taxes that they pay.
Seventy-four percent of people questioned say that a lot of their tax dollars are wasted by the government; 23 percent say that some of their tax dollars are misspent and three percent say that not much of their tax dollars are wasted.
Americans are split on their overall opinion of the country's tax system: 49 percent say it's fair and 50 percent say it's unfair, according to the poll.
"Six in 10 Democrats say that the tax system is fair," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Republicans are split down the middle, with 49 percent calling it fair and 51 percent thinking it is unfair."