Sparks Fly Between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

By: Kevin Derby and Allison Nielsen | Posted: November 14, 2013 3:55 AM
Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

The fur continues to fly between the candidates as the leading contenders in next year’s governor's race maneuver for position.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist, now running as a Democrat after winning three statewide offices as a Republican, held a fundraiser Tuesday evening at his sister's home, where he wasted no time laying into Gov. Rick Scott and his record in the private sector.

According to a report from the Tampa Bay Times, Crist brought up Scott's business career including his leadership of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain that paid a $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud. In one deposition in particular, Scott invoked the Fifth Amendment 75 times.

"People like Al Capone do that," Crist said. "And they definitely don't get to be governor. The governor of Illinois, maybe, but not Florida."

Crist also made sure to remind attendees that the contribution cap had increased from $500 to $3,000 on Nov. 1 -- and it was time for contributors to pay up.

"If you continue to load my gun, I will fire the cannon," Crist said.

Crist said he wouldn't be afraid to use Rick Scott's name because of the "negative connotation" associated with the governor's name.

"We need somebody back that has a heart and a soul and actually cares about people," said Crist.

The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) quickly responded, firing away at Crist on Wednesday morning, accusing the former governor of launching attacks to turn focus away from his economic record.

“The fact that Charlie Crist is resorting to political attacks that invoke criminals just goes to show how desperate he is to cover up his record of job losses, higher debt and economic failure,” said Lenny Curry, the chairman of the RPOF, on Wednesday. “It’s another opportunistic move from a career politician who has a history of lousy judgment when it comes to his own decisions and the people he surrounds himself with. Floridians can’t afford another four years with Charlie Crist in the governor’s office."

Curry wasn’t the only Republican to bash Crist on Wednesday. The Republican Governors Association (RGA) hit Crist for running up state debt and compared his record in Tallahassee to President Barack Obama’s in Washington.

“It turns out newly-minted Democrat Charlie Crist has a lot more in common with President Barack Obama than party affiliation,” said Gail Gitcho, the RGA’s communications director, on Wednesday. “Both Obama and Crist spend taxpayer money with reckless abandon. As a consequence of such wanton abuse of power, future generations will be stuck with their irresponsible mountains of debt. Floridians won’t be fooled again into voting for Crist.”

For his part, Scott spent Wednesday in New York, making the media rounds, including appearing on Fox Business to talk about taxes and reducing the size of the state government. Scott touched on his plan to cut $500 million from next year’s budget.

“We’ve been reducing our business tax every year so about 70 percent of our businesses don't pay a business tax,” Scott said. “But, we’re looking at any other fees and things, I’m working with my Legislature. But it will be $500 million of additional money back to you as a citizen. 'Cause you know what? You’ll put money into either housing or transportation, you might put money into getting your kids a better education or maybe start a business. We have 271,000 job openings in our state because people are starting businesses in our state because they can do so well.”

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

Comments (1)

Dean Franklin
9:25AM NOV 14TH 2013
Haha! Charlie signed the spending bills the republican run house and senate passed. They spend the money, not the gov. Typical political hack job. Shame

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