Rick Scott Goes on the Attack and Builds his Defenses for 2014
Around the State
When Rick Scott talked to conservative activists at an Americans for Prosperity event last week, he signaled some of the themes he will highlight as he runs in what is expected to be a tough re-election campaign next year.
Scott’s an underdog as the fall opens, but he has been slowly gaining ground in the polls as the economy recovers. Based on his speech Friday, Scott and his team are more than aware of this. He went out of his way to highlight Florida’s recovery.
Scott played up his administration’s achievements of holding the line on taxes while cutting spending. He also showcased how his administration has changed rules for Floridians seeking welfare, from requiring drug tests to demanding proof that the unemployed were actively looking for new jobs.
Turning to the future, he called for the Legislature to cut taxes next year while noting the state is making record investments in education. With only 14 months until the general election, he is looking to defend himself from charges that he is gutting schools
Scott also played up his personal side. During his speech last week, he offered a little bit of biographical information and started the speech with news about his grandchildren.
It’s an interesting tactic and one that worked for Scott before. Playing up his personal side helped him back in 2010 when the campaign spotlight turned toward his mother who went out of her way to defend him and insist he was a “good boy.”
Polls find Scott is not personally popular and he’s clearly at a disadvantage here compared to the often charming Crist. Scott tried to play up his personal side before, such as performing a work day making doughuts as he did when he was in high school. While Scott might not be doing work days any more, he hasn’t abandoned trying to offer Floridians a look at his life.
The governor is starting early and he probably has to if he wants to turn his numbers around. He’s developing his attacks against Crist and looking to shore up his defenses. Look for Scott to continue with these themes throughout the fall as he tries to narrow the gap before 2014 begins and Charlie Crist slips back into the limelight with a book tour and the start of his latest campaign.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.