Image: Rudy Giuliani, Marco Rubio
J Pat Carter  /  AP
Rudi Giuliani, front, endorses Marco Rubio Monday for Florida's open Senate seat during a campaign rally in Miami.
updated 4/5/2010 2:46:23 PM ET 2010-04-05T18:46:23

Rudy Giuliani emphasized Marco Rubio's trustworthiness Monday as he endorsed him for Florida's open Senate seat over an opponent he said broke a promise to support him in his presidential bid.

The former New York City mayor said it was an easy choice to back the former state House speaker over Gov. Charlie Crist, calling him "the one candidate that we can trust to represent Republican principles in Washington and remain a Republican if he goes to Washington."

Giuliani worked hard to get Crist's endorsement in his 2008 presidential run, and said the governor promised he'd get it. Crist instead backed Sen. John McCain.

"He did break his word to me," Giuliani said after endorsing Rubio before a standing-room-only crowd of hundreds at a Miami banquet hall. "He shook my hand and told me he'd support me, and he didn't."

But Giuliani called Crist's snub "ancient history" and said it colored his view of the governor but did not determine his endorsement.

A spokeswoman for Crist did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment. Crist appeared to be the early front-runner in the race, but Rubio has pulled ahead in the polls in recent months.

Image: Marco Rubio
Cliff Owen  /  AP
Former Florida House Speaker and Florida Republican Senate candidate, Marco Rubio addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington in February.

Giuliani repeatedly attacked Crist's support for President Barack Obama's federal stimulus plan and portrayed him as someone who could not be trusted for lower taxes, smaller government and free markets. And he railed against Democratic-led interventions in health care, student loans and the auto industry.

"Marco will stand up to that. He's a man you can trust to do that. His opponent is someone who you wonder whether he will because he's accommodated himself quite a bit to the Obama agenda," he said. "Maybe he will become a Democrat at some point."

Giuliani's moderate positions on social issues, including abortion and gay rights, are more in line with Crist's values than Rubio's conservative stance. But Giuliani said that was eclipsed by Rubio's stances on economic and national security issues.

"Marco is a much more consistent economic conservative," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "And I think he's much more realistic about the threat of terrorism and what to do about it." Video: Rubio will trade Keith Olbermann for immigrants

Rubio said he was honored by Giuliani's support, but he spoke only briefly and allowed the former mayor to garner most of the attention.

Giuliani elicited laughter when comparing the Senate race to the 2000 presidential election, which was decided by Florida's votes.

"You did it for us once before, remember? You saved us in 2000," Giuliani said. "Al Gore? Phew."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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