While the three-day, five-city tour under the slogan “Restore the Cuts” may come across as less aggressive than Scott's rhetoric, there's no doubt this tour is a direct attack on Scott's record on education during his first two years in office.
Arriving at Al Lopez Park Thursday evening after a what Crist described as a fender-bender delayed the school bus he was traveling in by almost two hours, Crist and his candidate for Lieutenant Governor Annette Taddeo arrived to more than 30 supporters and were immediately on message, specifically pointing out Scott's $1.3 billion cut to K-12 education and $300 million cut to state universities, along with his rolling back towards Bright Futures, all of which played a role in making Scott one of the least popular governors in America during his early years in office.
“It's hard to believe that someone who believes in a brighter future would cut education to the bone like that,” said Crist, “but that's what he did, that's what he's about. He doesn't care about the kids at our schools. He doesn't care about the teachers or the people that are driving the bus. That's why we're running, running to make a difference, to make sure that for Florida students, that their future is a brighter one.”
When questioned on the cuts that Crist himself made to education during his time as governor, Crist blamed the cuts as a unfortunate necessity during the great recession while touting a higher level of per-pupil spending.
“During the Great Recession, with the global economic meltdown, I was able to maintain education funding at a level higher per pupil than what Rick Scott is doing with an almost $3 billion surplus. That's what I would say to people, and that's what i would say to him. It's clear that we don't have a revenue problem, we have a priorities problem.”
As to whether a full scale campaign of negative ads were on the horizon, Crist pointed out that despite Scott outspending him at a rate of nearly 30 to 1 they were still tied and that any future ads will simply be an “honest” look at Rick Scott.
"The kind of ads we're going to run are going to be honest ads, they're going to tell the truth about Rick Scott. When we tell the truth about Rick Scott they think it's hell, but we're just telling the truth, and in his case it is hell."
Crist's bus tour hasn't gone unnoticed by supporters of the state's other candidates, with the Tampa stop being greeted by a collective of Scott supporters waving signs reading “Charlie Ran Away” and two Nan Rich supporters donned in Chicken and Duck costumes who chastised Crist for not debating in Rich for the still unconfirmed Democratic candidacy.
Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford also released a statement regarding the bus tour.
“When he was Governor, Charlie Crist was always more interested in putting on a show than doing the hard work necessary to help Florida students. The same is true of his ’say anything, do nothing’ bus tour. It's Rick Scott who has led Florida's economic turnaround, funded K-12 schools at record levels, and held the line on tuition. Nothing that Charlie Crist says on his bus tour can change the facts.”
Crist's bus tour concluded Friday in Miami.