1:19 p.m. — Marco Rubio, Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meek are just getting underway taping a debate in Miami, to be broadcast later tonight. The debate is hosted by Univision, and thus all of the questions will be asked in Spanish. Answers, though, will be delivered in English. Rubio, even, who is fluent in Spanish, must answer in English — presumably to level the playing field with his monolingual competitors.
1:25 p.m. – Crist, on being behind by double digits: “Polls really don’t mean that much to me.”
1:42 p.m. — The immigration question comes up — whether candidates would support amnesty. Rubio doesn’t directly answer, and is interrupted and pushed by the moderator. Until we secure our borders, Rubio says, we can’t begin fixing the immigration system.
“I think the right path is to enforce the border,” Crist says. “I also believe that we need to have a pathway to citizenship … even President Bush agreed this was the right way to go.”
1:48 p.m. — Rubio hammers Crist on his rhetoric of post-partisan independence: “Everybody sees what you’re doing. Everybody gets it,” Rubio says. “Four months ago you were running against me as a Republican.”
Meek gets in on the action: “Mr. Crist is someone who is willing to say, ‘hey, I’m for everything,’ on any day.”
1:55 p.m. — Asked about the DREAM act, Rubio dodges, but does so artfully. He states that he identifies with the stories of those who would be covered under the act, but then hits Harry Reid for using Hispanic voters as pawns in a political game: “It’s a cynical way to play politics with the lives of real people. They bring this up, in this manner, at the last second, on the eve of this election, because he wants to win an election in Nevada.”
1:58 p.m. — Crist finds his line on health care reform, saying he would have voted against it because it was “too big, too expensive.”
2:06 p.m. — All three candidates agree on keeping the Cuban embargo, but Rubio, with Cuban heritage, has the best pitch: “Cuba is not a friend, their government is not a friend,” Rubio said. “You want changes between the United States and Cuba? The ball is in Cuba’s court.”
2:10 p.m. — The question of whether English should be the official language provides some interesting answers. Meek calls the U.S. the “Brussels of the Western Hemisphere.” Crist says, in Spanish, “I studied a couple of years of Spanish in school,” and then laughs as his Spanish is translated into English in his earpiece. Rubio is the only supporter of the proposal: “That doesn’t mean English only,” he says. “People should learn as many languages as they can … But the most important thing that recent arrivals can do for their children is make them proficient in the English language.”
2:15 p.m. — Debate closes. Crist says voters will be stuck with the same old partisanship if they elect his opponents — for six more years. Then he counts them out: “year, after year, after year, after year, after year, after year.”