At Root of Governor's-Race Attacks: 'Who Can Relate to Floridians?'

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: April 1, 2014 3:55 AM
Charlie Crist, Rick Scott, Nan Rich

Charlie Crist, Rick Scott, Nan Rich

Gov. Rick Scott stressed his record on job creation on Monday even as his two leading Democratic rivals went on the attack. 

Scott’s campaign team released a 15-second Web video on Monday showcasing job growth during his term in office. The ad stays positive, not taking aim at former Gov. Charlie Crist or other Democrats. The Scott team launched English and Spanish versions of the ad.

“The ad comes as new unemployment data show that Florida has added over 540,000 private-sector jobs since Gov. Scott took office,” Greg Blair, a spokesman for the Scott campaign, informed the media on Monday morning.

With the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) attacking former Crist in recent days, the Florida Democratic Party struck back on Monday by attacking Scott. Crist is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination to challenge Scott in November despite having spent most of his political life as a Republican.  

Joshua Karp, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party, pointed to attacks from the RPOF on Crist, showing the new Democrat wearing a Rolex and riding in a limousine.

“This attack is so ridiculous that it’s just laughable,” Karp said. “Not only is it blatantly hypocritical for Rick Scott's campaign to attack someone’s wealth, or lack thereof, their attack completely concedes that Rick Scott is not a ‘man of the people.’"

Karp noted that Mike Fernandez recently resigned as one of Scott’s chief fundraisers with reports of campaign aides doing over-the-top Mexican accents.

“What kind of campaign goes out of their way to make the case that their own candidate is out of touch? Clearly one still reeling from the resignations and racism scandal that rocked the campaign last week,” Karp continued before turning his fire back to Scott.

“Besides having a second roof in storage -- for real, it’s made of a rare tile -- Rick Scott is the proud owner of two private jets. In 2010, he dumped $70 million of his personal fortune into his campaign, and has pledged to spend a record amount again to buy his way to re-election,” Karp said. "If Rick Scott’s team wants to argue over which candidate is more in touch with the concerns of Florida’s middle class, we more than welcome the fight.”

The RPOF fired back on Monday by highlighting a video showing Crist being interviewed by Jim DeFede on “Facing South Florida.” In the video Crist said, “I lived paycheck to paycheck my entire life.”

“Florida Democrats are obviously worried about defending Charlie Crist’s record, which includes losing 832,000 jobs, adding $5.2 billion in debt and seeing housing prices plummet,” the RPOF insisted on Monday afternoon. “Crist may campaign as a ‘man of the people,’ saying that he lived ‘paycheck to paycheck,’ but his record as governor and his new career as a trial attorney show that he is more concerned with the trappings of office and his own financial and political gain than serving the people of Florida.”

In the meantime, former state Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich, trying to catch Crist in the Democratic primary, continued her efforts to link her two opponents together. “The two Republican governors in this race are relying on deep-pocketed special interests to raise tens of millions of dollars,” Rich insisted, contrasting that with her reliance on smaller donations.

Crist also played up that theme, though he kept his fire focused on Scott instead of his primary rival.

“Rick Scott's $100 million ad machine is a major threat -- it's making my hair even whiter,” Crist wrote supporters in a fundraising email on Monday.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (3)

10:06AM APR 3RD 2014
In fairness to Gov. Scott, he was going to expand Medicaid, but it seems he was blocked by strong opposition in the Florida House. It's frustrating, but many in the GOP, especially the "tea Party" view these programs, not as benefits, but as threats to their personal freedom. I can't think of how that could be resolved.
10:12AM APR 1ST 2014
Does any of this matter... what's the job growth rate nationwide? A quick glance at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Florida looks like it was behind the rest of the country and is only just now turning around and starting to hire again. So nationally Florida was a little high for 2013 but a little behind overall... since the depression hit which effected all states. But suppose that doesn't really matter for this story.
1:37PM APR 1ST 2014
Job growth would be great if we took the 51 billion for Medicaid expansion and the speed train construction money. Scott has hurt job creation in Florida.

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