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Attack Ads Front and Center in Florida Governor's Race

May 13, 2014 - 6:00pm

Attack ads have taken center stageas the candidates maneuver for position to get the edge in the Florida gubernatorial campaign.

A new web ad from liberal PAC American Bridge released Wednesday morning accused Gov. Rick Scott of dodging "important questions" from the media, including questions on Medicaid and minimum wage.

"Time and time again reporters have asked Scott where he stands on key issues, only to have Scott duck and run," reads the description of the video from American Bridge. "Maybe that's because he knows his positions are detrimental to middle-class families in the Sunshine State."

The video shows Scott abruptly leaving after being questioned by reporters and imitates videos from Scotts allies which accuse former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, of turning his back on Florida during tough economic times. The ads primarily focus on when Crist decided to run for the U.S. Senate in 2010 instead of seeking a second term as governor.

Crist started the Senate campaign as a Republican but, after being caught in the primary by Marco Rubio, he left the GOP to continue his bid with no party affiliation. At the end of 2012, Crist joined the Democrats.

But even though Scott took a hit on dodging tough questions, it didn't take long for the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) to weigh in on the video, insisting Crist also has a habit of running away from important issues.

Five years ago, Charlie Crist abandoned Floridians, leaving behind the mess that he created in Tallahassee to run away to Washington, said RPOF Communications Director Susan Hepworth. Crist did not have an answer to Democrats and Republicans alike who questioned his record of economic failure, which resulted in a losing campaign then and will result in a losing campaign this November.

But the RPOF pursued another line of attack against Crist on Wednesday, releasing a video of its own, criticizing the former governor for refusing to debate former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich. The video shows Crist flip-flopping on whether or not he would debate Rich.

The first debate Charlie Crist needs to do is with Nan Rich, Scott told the media in Orlando on Wednesday. He needs to quit ducking a debate with Nan Rich. Hes in a primary.

Scott attempted to contrast Crist with Rich. I might not agree with her on many issues, he said. but she is somebody whos consistent, something that Charlie Crist has had a problem with his whole career."

Reach Kevin Derby at Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.

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