Charlie Crist, the RPOF and RGA Exchange Fire
Around the State
With the holidays looming, Republicans and Democrats alike are going on the attack before Florida voters tune out the gubernatorial contest and focus on Christmas, New Year's and football.
On Tuesday, Republicans took aim at a familiar target -- the media. Lenny Curry, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), came out swinging against the mainstream media on Tuesday. Curry painted the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald as in the corner of former Gov. Charlie Crist, the front-runner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination despite spending most of his political career as a Republican.
“To me, this appears to be an effort to prop up Charlie Crist's campaign for governor by trying to tear down Rick Scott,” Curry insisted. “We don't expect the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald to do a series of stories on Charlie Crist's jobs record. So, using their own math and very narrow, obscure sources of data, let's take a different look at Charlie's record.
“The Times and Herald used YourEconomy.org to assess private-sector jobs,” Curry continued. “Using that data source, Charlie Crist lost over 3.4 million private-sector jobs from January 2007 to December 2010. The Times and Herald also used data from the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) filings from large employers. Using that data source, there was a loss of over 89,000 jobs from companies with more than 100 employees under Charlie Crist.
“Charlie Crist has tried, and will continue to try, to brush off blame for his disastrous economic record,” added Curry. “Using real math and common sources of data, like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here's the Crist record that isn't being reported, and likely will never be reported, by the Times or the Herald.”
Curry pointed to the growth of the state unemployment rate under Crist which rose from 3.5 percent to 11 percent during his term as governor. The RPOF chairman also cited Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers. “Of the 48 months Charlie Crist was in office, Florida's unemployment was above the national average for 35 consecutive months."
Curry ended by tearing into Crist. “Florida Democrats know that Charlie Crist can't defend his own economic record," Curry wrote. “Many prominent Florida Democrats who have questioned Crist's candidacy have recognized that this record is a liability. So the only way for Charlie to talk about the issue that Floridians care about most is to attempt to tear down Rick Scott.”
Curry also encouraged Republicans to hit back. “The misleading talking points that the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald have provided to Charlie Crist and the Florida Democratic Party will undoubtedly be used on the campaign trail and on the airwaves,” Curry wrote. “But the facts that we've provided above should give you ample opportunity to respond whenever you see these arguments being made on talk radio, in newspapers, on TV, on Facebook or on Twitter.”
“Bottom line: No news organization can manipulate or dictate the facts to Floridians, especially when those facts clearly show we can't afford another four years of Charlie Crist,” Curry wrote in conclusion.
But while Curry slammed the media, Crist focused his fire on Scott on Tuesday.
“Rick Scott says he will have more money than any politician in the history of Florida politics. But he doesn’t have the people," Crist crowed to supporters on Tuesday. “Every public and private poll says that the people of Florida want to be back in charge.”
Crist announced his campaign and a supporting group raked in around $3 million last month. The former governor launched his campaign early in November.
“More than 3,500 of you contributed directly to our campaign," Crist informed supporters. “While Rick Scott shakes down a few gigantic special interests, I will continue to be inspired by you, the people. I work for you. Always have, always will.”
Despite hitting Scott for relying on “special interests” and his claim to work for the public, Crist was employed by prominent trial attorney firm Morgan & Morgan who have relied heavily on the former governor in their advertising. Crist’s face appears on billboards advertising Morgan & Morgan throughout the state.
While Crist crowed about his cash haul, the Republican Governors Association (RGA) released a new study attacking his record as governor. During his one term as governor, Crist had been a Republican but he left the GOP in 2010 to run for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation. Late last year Crist joined the Democrats.
“Charlie Crist’s campaign to be the next governor of Florida is built on a colossal mountain of well-documented failures,” insisted Gail Gitcho, the communications director of the RGA, on Tuesday. “Charlie’s too clever by half catch phrases for massive spending initiatives like ‘Accelerate Florida’ and ‘Back to Work’ would have been as much a waste of taxpayer money as President Obama’s stimulus boondoggle he embraced. Worse, Charlie endorses the same soak-the-rich policies he once deplored. No wonder Charlie’s campaign manager quit before he even started. Sorry, Charlie, but your failed leadership left more Floridians out of work than when you took office and the state deeper in debt. Floridians simply aren’t buying what you’re selling.”
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.