The two leading candidates in the Florida gubernatorial contest -- Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist -- relied on surrogates this week to reinforce their campaign messages.
Scott got some help from a longtime ally as Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, took a break from his efforts to lure jobs to the Lone Star State. He went to bat for his fellow Republican governor. In New York for much of this week, Perry, who is weighing making a second bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, hit the national airwaves, appearing on several talk shows.
During his appearance on Your World on Fox News Wednesday, Perry weighed in on his challenge to debate Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., and offered praise to Scott and other Republican governors. Perry is in New York promoting Texas business climate and encouraging businesses based in the Empire State to look at relocating.
Therere two issues going on here; I dont make any apologies that I am a competitive governor and I come in to California, Illinois, or any other state, Perry said. Just as Bobby Jindal and Rick Scott come into Texas and say hey, wed like for you to take a look at Louisiana or take a look at Florida. Those are two really competitive governors out there and theres a host of others who are very competitive.
"I mean, what Mary Fallin does, Susana Martinez, Nikki Haley -- I mean those are governors that get it about tax, regulatory, legal policies and having a skilled workforce in place and making your state be competitive. I happen to think that our Founding Fathers knew what they were talking about when they discussed that 10th Amendment and said the federal government is supposed to do a few things and do it very well, enumerate those powers, and you states work out all these other things -- which says to me, lets compete against each other.
"Whos got the best tax policy?" Perry asks. "Whos got the best regulatory climate? Who has the best legal system for the people of your state? Then people will move and go to where they want to go. If that is the test, more people have migrated out of New York and California over the last decade than any two states to go to places where they can find some relief.
Perrys team also indicated this week that helping Scott will be one of Perry's chief political objectives in the 2014 election cycle. Having served as governor since George W. Bush left Austin to become president, Perry, the longest serving governor in Texas history, is not running again in November.
In recent months, Perry has shown no hesitation in throwing jabs Crists way. Back in November, appearing on a call with the media, Perry trashed Crists record in Tallahassee. Appearing at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last month, he contrasted Crists record with Scotts.
"Under Rick Scott, Florida's unemployment rate has dropped for three straight years, when just four years ago -- four years ago -- his predecessor presided over the loss of more than 800,000 jobs and now that guy wants his job back, Perry said. And with a record like that, appropriately, he is running this time to seek it as a Democrat."
Crist also relied on a surrogate this week in his wife Carole, who tore into Scott on abortion.
Rick Scott scares me, Carole Crist insisted on Friday. I've yet to see him govern with my best interests -- or the interests of any other Florida woman -- at heart. And I'm done waiting.
In 2010, Scott ran on a proud anti-choice platform -- he believes wholeheartedly that Roe v. Wade should be overturned, she added. And every chance he gets, he'll poke holes in it. In 2011, the Legislature passed a bill that requires women to endure transvaginal ultrasounds before abortions -- an invasive and medically unnecessary procedure. That's the same bill that my husband flat-out vetoed when he was governor.
But Scott didn't just sign it -- he signed it, then threw a party at the governor's mansion to celebrate it, Carole Crist continued. Charlie has always said that government should stay out of the relationship between a woman and her doctor. Politicians don't get a say in this, end of story. But Scott disagrees.
Having won three state offices campaigning as a conservative Republican, Crist had traditionally defined himself as pro-life. He left the GOP in 2010 after being caught by Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate primary but continued his bid with no party affiliation. Crist joined the Democrats at the end of 2012.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.