Crist Draws Reagan Parallel to Quiet Critics

Florida may be the site of the Super Bowl XLIV, but another high-stakes contest is also drawing attention.

According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist trails fellow Republican Marco Rubio in their Senate primary race by three points – a statistical dead heat. Some of Crist's critics paint the governor as a RINO (Republican in Name Only) while Rubio is seen as a true conservative.

Crist addressed his naysayers during an appearance on CBS' "The Early Show" Thursday.

"If I'm a RINO, then so is Ronald Reagan. I'm [a] less taxing, less spending, less government, more freedom kind of guy and I just take a pragmatic common sense approach to government. And if that's not what the people want, they'll let me know. But I'm confident that it is," he told "Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez.

The American people "don't want bickering and some ideologue on one end or another to sort of be a standard bearer," he said.

Crist downplayed Rubio's recent momentum in the polls.

"I think that we're 200 days from the race. Let's see what it is when we get to game day."

Speaking of the other big game going on in Florida, Crist said the Super Bowl is providing a much needed boost to the state's economy – pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the area and creating thousands of jobs.