With Florida Press Paying Attention, Nan Rich Rips Scott and Crist Equally
Around the State
Former Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich got a chance to catch the ear of the Tallahassee press corps Wednesday and used it to the max -- laying out her agenda, separating herself from the "boys" -- former Gov. Charlie Crist and Gov. Rick Scott -- and emphasizing her spirited-underdog bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
The longtime Weston legislator launched her gubernatorial bid back in the spring of 2012 but has made little progress in the polls as surveys show former Gov. Charlie Crist holds a commanding lead in the Democratic primary despite spending most of his political career in the Republican ranks.
Playing up her underdog status, Rich went on the attack. Insisting there was more to political campaigns than money, Rich said there were other factors in the contest which would help her compete despite being far behind Scott and Crist in the money chase. “No one is going to raise and spend more money than Rick Scott,” Rich said.
Keeping her fire on the governor, Rich bashed Scott’s “lack of leadership and failed policies” and insisted he would be a one-term governor. She took aim at Scott’s rejection of federal health-care funds and money for high-speed rail and trashed Republicans in Tallahassee for rejecting expanding Medicare last year. Rich painted Scott as embracing the “politics of extremism.”
Rich also ripped into Crist, insisting he had a career of taking “right wing” positions. Rich played up her social liberalism, insisting Democrats could trust her on abortion, gun control and same-sex marriage and letting LGBT couples adopt. “I am pro-choice, they are not,” Rich said.
Asked if she expected Crist to revert to his previous Republican positions, Rich said the former governor remained a political chameleon. “I have no idea,” she replied. “I stand on my record. I think he has rewritten his.”
Rich said having more debates would help smoke Crist out on the issues and bashed the former Republican for avoiding them. She also contrasted how she was running her campaign to Scott and Crist.
“I’m running a grassroots campaign that is gaining strength and momentum every day,” Rich said, insisting voters wanted “new leadership” in the governor’s office. “Rick Scott and Charlie Crist had their chance to lead and they have failed.”
Turning to her plans if elected governor, Rich said she would work to raise the minimum wage and to improve public education. She bashed Scott, Crist and Bush on public education and said she would do more for Florida schools. “I will set new priorities to get Florida back on the right track,” Rich insisted.
Asked about Scott’s proposed $500 million tax cut, Rich replied not enough focus has been paid to the impact it would have on schools, seniors and social services. “We need to look long and hard before we cut taxes again,” Rich said, insisting it was often on the “backs” of Florida’s most vulnerable. She did say she was open to reducing some taxes and fees, though.
While Crist backed the vehicle registration fees Scott is looking to roll back, Rich said she was against it both now and when passed in 2009, arguing they hurt working Floridians. “I voted against the budget and I voted against the budget because it had it in it,” Rich said.
Rich maintained her stances and Crist‘s record would help her prevail in the Democratic primary come August. “I stand here on principles, Democratic principles,” Rich said.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.