Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Charlie Crist goes off on Rick Scott in appearance at West Tampa Sandwich Shop

Posted By on Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 4:20 PM

click to enlarge Crist met up with pharmacy school students at the West Tampa Sandwich Shop
  • Crist met up with pharmacy school students at the West Tampa Sandwich Shop
Charlie Crist made a campaign stop in West Tampa Tuesday afternoon, where he ended up going into the kitchen of the West Tampa Sandwich Shop to hobnob and pose for photographs with the cooking staff of the venerable Armenia Street establishment, as well as gladhanding anybody and everybody who came within his field of vision. But before he did that, he met for about 10 minutes with reporters outside the restaurant, and absolutely unloaded on Rick Scott.

With the story du jour of the campaign centered on allegations that two campaign staffers for Scott's re-election team mocked Hispanics recently, leading to major fundraiser Mike Fernandez dropping out of the campaign, Crist pounced.

"If I were the head of the campaign on the other side, Rick Scott, and something would have happened like that in my campaign, those people would have been fired already.," the former governor said of the current one. "If Rick Scott’s aides are making fun of how Hispanics talk? That’s unconscionable. And they need to get to the bottom of it, and you need to as well," he said to the reporters recording his comments.

After Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera denied on Monday in a Miami Herald report that two Scott campaign aides imitated a Mexican accent while driving to a Chipotle, the Tampa Bay Times and Herald reported on Tuesday that an email by Fernandez described a "homogeneous" team of campaign advisers who are too scared of Scott to disagree with him, and who don't understand the culture of Hispanic voters whose support he needs to win re-election.

Even though they're denying the incident happened, the Scott re-election team and the Republican Party fought back on Monday by referring to instances they said showed Democrats were anti-Hispanic, including the fact that they had not been vocal in supporting the Venezuelan people protesting the government of Nicolas Maduro.

Crist said that both Republicans and Democrats have blasted the Maduro government, so such a criticism was an example of Team Scott "grasping at straws," adding, "they're desperate and they're in disarray and Florida deserves better."

The Scott campaign will begin airing a new television commercial beginning later this week that bashes Crist for his unfettered admiration of the Affordable Care Act, which remains on the whole unpopular in Florida, leaving Republicans to believe that bashing it is their ticket to prospering in the midterm elections. The ad makes the oft-spoken claim by Republicans that 300,000 Floridians have lost their health insurance due to the implementation of the ACA, a claim that PolitiFact rated today as "mostly false." 

Crist wasn't so diplomatic.

"I know Rick Scott’s ads are a bunch of lies," he said. "He’s saying that 300,000 Floridians lost their healthcare? They didn’t. Even Florida Blue said that’s just not true, the guy is off. So, we are where we are."

But Crist said the biggest scandal regarding healthcare in Florida wasn't the ACA, but Scott's refusal to lobby at all for Medicaid expansion after he declared his support for it before the 2013 legislative session. "Nearly a million of our fellow Floridians every day aren't getting healthcare by that one decision by one bad politician, and his name is Rick Scott, and we need to change that, because those people are suffering because of his ideology. That’s just not right. That’s not fair. It’s just not."

Scott's new television buy is reported to cost $2 million, something Crist admitted he can't compete with, which is why he won't be airing any television ads anytime soon. He calls the fact that Scott and his supporters intend to raise $100 million "financial bullying," but cautioned Democrats not to be worried that he's flying a bit under the radar at the moment.

"Listen, we're running against a mountain of money, but I’m not that worried about that, because people are more powerful than money."

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