ORLANDO (CBSMiami/AP) — Florida Republicans contended Saturday they are ready for the November election.
The Republican Party of Florida met at one of Walt Disney World’s most expensive resorts for their annual fundraising dinner. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was scheduled to be the keynote speaker.
Just a few miles away, Democratic rival Charlie Crist campaigned and blasted Scott, saying he was a corporate governor who is more interested in helping out special interests, including insurance companies and utilities, that have aided the GOP and Scott’s re-election campaign with campaign donations.
“It’s not just about the 1 percent Rick, it’s not just about your rich buddies,” Crist said during a speech before the Florida Nurses Association.
Scott has been harsh lately with his criticism of Crist, who was elected governor in 2006 as a Republican. Scott has insisted that Crist is a “slick politician” who is too closely aligned to President Barack Obama. He has blamed Crist for tuition hikes and for raising fees and taxes while he was governor.
The rising tide of negative comments from both sides is not surprising since Florida is a perennial swing state. Despite having a Republican governor, the state’s voters have backed Obama in the last two elections. Yet Democrats – other than U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson – have had trouble winning statewide elections during midterm elections, perhaps because turnout usually declines.
Republicans, who said they had $18 million in the bank at the end of August, maintain that in a non-presidential year they will have a better organization in place to inspire GOP voters to get to the polls.
Justin Johnson, the executive director for the state party, said recently that it’s been “remarkable” that Scott has rebounded from poll numbers that a year ago showed him trailing to Crist.
Part of that has come with the help of a barrage of television ads.
Since March, the state party, along with Scott’s own political committee, has spent in excess of $30 million on television ads compared to roughly $10 million from Crist’s side. Many have been highly critical of Crist, including one ad that features a testimonial from a man who claims they were a victim of Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein and questions the friendship between Rothstein and Crist. Crist has maintained he did not know of Rothstein’s illegal activities. He also has denied that Rothstein’s campaign contributions influenced any of his actions.
The Republican Party has refused to identify the man or give any information to prove that the information in the ad is accurate.
Crist maintained that turnout in November will be better than some are predicting for a midterm election. And he said that it may be due to the ads the Crist campaign is getting ready to release.
“The ads aren’t done, maybe they will inspire a little at the end,” Crist said. “Stay tuned.”
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