01/25/2012 02:27 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2012

Newt Gingrich's 'Charlie Crist Vs. Marco Rubio' Strategy Hits A Snag

Yesterday, we made note of the way presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, along with his allied super PAC Winning Our Future -- who are totally not coordinating with each other, don't be silly! -- hit upon the strategy of comparing Mitt Romney, who the Gingrich camp continually describes as a Massachusetts moderate, to Charlie Crist. The comparison is apt, and obvious: Crist's own electoral ambitions hit a dead-end in 2010 after he failed to thwart Marco Rubio, who successfully pigeonholed him as being insufficiently conservative. To cement the comparison, Gingrich signed up Rubio's old campaign manager to help run his campaign in Florida.

Rubio himself has largely stayed out of the 2012 political fray, and he has not endorsed any of the candidates in the race. But the Gingrich campaign has apparently pushed the Florida senator past his patience. Yesterday, Rubio put out a statement rejecting the Romney-Crist comparison, and reminding Gingrich that Romney had supported his effort to win the Senate seat: "Mitt Romney is no Charlie Crist. Romney is a conservative. and he was one of the first national Republican leaders to endorse me. He came to Florida, campaigned hard for me, and made a real difference in my race."

And since then, the Gingrich campaign has apparently further rankled Rubio with a radio ad that he thought went a step too far. As the Miami Herald's Marc Caputo reports:

Sen. Marco Rubio scolded Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign over a Spanish-language radio ad that accuses rival Mitt Romney of being “anti-immigrant.”

“This kind of language is more than just unfortunate. It’s inaccurate, inflammatory, and doesn’t belong in this campaign,” Rubio told The Miami Herald when asked about the ad.

“The truth is that neither of these two men is anti-immigrant,” Rubio said. “Both are pro-legal immigration and both have positive messages that play well in the Hispanic community.”

Caputo reports that Rubio's rebuke got the Gingrich camp to blink and agree to take down the ad.

This all comes at a time when Gingrich is attempting to define himself as the candidate in the race with the most appeal to the Hispanic community. He has a long way to go -- a recent ABC News/Univision News survey finds that Romney is the candidate of choice for Hispanic voters by a fifteen-point margin. Alienating Rubio is not something that will aid Gingrich's effort. For more on Gingrich's attempts to woo Florida's Hispanic community, see this piece from HuffPost's Elise Foley.

Newt Gingrich removes “anti-immigrant” Romney ad after scolding by Sen. Marco Rubio, other Hispanic leaders [Miami Herald]

Newt Gingrich Mocks 'Self-Deportation,' Predicts Big Win Among Latino Voters [HuffPost]

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