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February 2014

Rick Scott ducks Chuck Todd question about veto

UPDATE: Gov. Rick Scott's press office asked Crowley Political Report to add this statement:

“I don’t want to tell Governor Brewer what to do, she can do what’s best for her state. From my understanding of that bill, I would veto it in Florida because it seems unnecessary. In Florida we are focused on economic growth, and not on things that divide us. We are for freedom here in Florida.  And we want everyone to come here, create jobs, and live in freedom, and that includes religious liberty. I am very much opposed to forcing anyone to violate their conscience or their religious beliefs, and of course, I’m very much opposed to discrimination. As a society, we need to spend more time learning to love and tolerate each other, and less time trying to win arguments in courts of law. Other states can spend their time fighting over issues like this, but in Florida we are laser focused on creating jobs and opportunities. It’s working, and we need to keep it going and will not get distracted by this or anything else.” – Gov. Rick Scott


Poor Rick Scott. Florida's governor is either terribly ill-advised or he is not following good advice. Whatever the case, Scott's performance on Chuck Todd's The Daily Run Down, was at times painful to watch.

While many Republican leaders are condemning Arizona legislation allowing businesses, based on religious beliefs,  to refuse service to gay customers, Scott insists he knows nothing about the legislation.

Asked by Todd whether he thinks Arizona Gov. Jane Brewer should veto the bill, Scott said, "Chuck I have not seen that bill. What I'm focused on is they have some Spring training teams I want to get back to Florida."

Yup. Scott talked about Spring training. Wonder which adviser told him that was a good idea?

Todd tried again - "Do you think, a bill like that...religious beliefs should be used as a basis for somebody denying services to a gay couple?"

Scott: "I haven't seen that bill. But I can tell you I am trying to recruit companies every day to our state."

Todd does what a reporter does best. Ask the question. Ask again. Let the answers speak for themselves.

Given a chance to weigh in on allowing undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition prices, Scott instead talks about how tuition is too high for everyone. When pressed he said, "I will certainly look at it."

A clip is shown of former Gov. Charlie Crist accusing Scott of not fighting hard enough for Medicaid. Todd asks Scott to reply.

Scott: "First thing I did when we came into office is we revamped our Medicaid program to make sure that its a program that our state could afford and our citizens could get taken care of.  Now let's look at what's happened with ObamaCare....."

Screeeeeech. So let's stop for a moment and note that Scott quickly pivots away from the question by switching to his ObamaCare talking points.

Todd: "Let's stick first to Medicaid...."

Nope. Not gonna do it. Scott rambles about the Florida legislature and informs Todd and viewers that "we have three branches of government."

Yes. Yes we do.

Early in the interview, Todd notes polls showing that Florida voters give Democrat Crist far higher approval ratings for his time as governor than they do Scott. And Todd notes that a recent Quinnipiac Poll found that 54 percent of those surveyed do not think Scott deserves a second term.

Todd: "Why do you think Charlie Crist's days as governor are being remembered more fondly then your days as governor?"

Scott goes right to the talking points: 'Let's look at the facts. While he was governor the state lost 832,000 jobs....."

 Talking points are swell. But sometimes a candidate needs to toss the talking points. Scott clearly needed to do that during this interview. 

Watch it below: 

AlfonZo Rachel says Charlie Crist is blaming the black guy

When former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist appeared on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, he told Stephen Colbert that his infamous hug with President Obama got a fierce reaction, in part, because Obama is African American. This made AlfonZo Rachel unhappy.

AlfonZo Rachel, a self-described "Christian conservative," has received more than 11,000 views, and growing,  of his six-minute video criticizing Crist for joininng the party of racism for blaming "this black guy" for ending his career as a Republican.

The video is very well done but there are some bizarre conclusions including one where Rachel says environmentalists, "put the planet before people."

Except for that slight detour the entire video takes on Crist. Rachel strongly defends the Tea Party and shows several pictures of Tea Party political stars hugging black people. He suggests that Crist joined the real racists when he became a Democrat.

While it is not likely that his video is going to have any impact on the expected race for governor between Crist and Republican incumbent Rick Scott, the video is another example that in today's political world attacks can come from surprising places.

Some excerpts:

"I wonder if Charlie Crist realizes that he's the one that he's the one who just blamed a black person for crippling his career."

"Crist be like, it's not because I actually suck, no way. My game got all messed up because of this black guy."

"Charlie Crist is trying to accuse the Republican Party of racism - meanwhile he joined the party of racism."

"Being the weeny that he is, he can't own up to the fact that he was no longer a good Republican representative and placed the blame on the black guy."

"Charlie, it's not the Tea Party that has a problem with blacks, it's you." 


Florida Republicans plan protests at Charlie Crist book signings

CharlieCrist (1)
Don't tell anyone. This is supposed to be a secret. Of course sending an email is an odd way to keep a secret.

South Florida Republicans are being urged to protest at former Gov. Charlie Crist's book signings this week in Palm Beach and Broward Counties. The email includes this note: please be careful who you forward to. 


More from the email that went to Palm Beach and Broward Republicans: (this is the PB version with "sign waivers").

Charlie Crist is going to be doing a book signing and we need sign waivers to come out and rally against him. I know I don't need to tell you what a horrible Governor Charlie was and the fact that he is an opportunist. We need to show him that no matter how blue Palm Beach may seem, he will encounter resistance. We want to reelect our Governor and not elect and opportunist. 

Leaving nothing to chance there are even suggested sign slogans: 

 Charlie Crist: Obamacare’s Biggest Fan

 Charlie = Opportunist

 You Can’t Trust Charlie

Failed Governor

3 Parties, 3 Years, Lousy Governor

 Charlie 2010 or Charlie 2014, Which One Do You Believe?

These ideas courtesy of Diana Ramos, Florida Republican Party Southeast Regional Director.

Whether you want to wave signs or show up supporting Crist, his schedule of appearances this week include:

•Tuesday  7 p.m., Books and Books, 927 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach.

•Wednesday 2 p.m., Classic Bookshop, 310 S. County Road, Palm Beach.

•Thursday  7 p.m.,  Barnes and Noble, 2051 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale.



Charlie Crist does Stephen Colbert and its worth watching

Appearing on the Stephen Colbert's comedy show can be a dicey thing. Many a politician has squirmed and died on the show.

One can only imagine how well Florida Gov. Rick Scott, not known for his effervescent personality, would do with Colbert.

Among the questions Colbert asks Crist:

"You're running for governor of Florida again. Now as a Democrat against Rick Scott   Do you even have to campaign? Can't you just say - I'm Charlie Crist I used to be governor how about more of that?"

"Are you afraid of Rick Scott?"

"You're not afraid he is going to unhinge his jaw and try to swallow you? I mean you're running against a native Florida swamp creature. That doesn't frighten you in any way?"

"Reach, pull, release - are those the three words you want to use when you are talking about the President of the United States?"

"You're not going to play the race card?"

  As you can tell from the questions, Colbert is not a fan of Scott.  


Three portraits of Jimmy Ryce

 In 2005, I visited the home of Don and Claudine Ryce. It had been ten years since the brutal murder of their child Jimmy. Of the countless people I have interviewed and the countless stories I have written, few have stayed with me as much as this one I wrote for the Palm Beach Post.

After a lengthy interview with Don, he stepped outside to have his picture taken. While chatting with Claudine in the kitchen, I asked her why Don did not have any pictures of Jimmy in his home office.

Claudine smiled and told me to follow her. What happened next is in the story that follows.

By Brian E. Crowley

January 30, 2005

Hand-carved, the large wooden desk dominates the room that is Don Ryce's formal office.

There's an Old World painting on an easel. A replica of an ancient cannon. A statue of Lady Justice, blindfolded and holding twin scales. The office is masculine. Comfortable. Cozy in its own way. Don is particularly fond of the desk.

His wife, Claudine, calls it the "show office." A place for her husband's legal clients to see him at their home. 

What visitors usually don't see is in another room. It is past the small dining room and an adjoining living room, a short walk down the hall to a closed door on the left.

It is the real office. Modern, cluttered and heart-wrenching.

Continue reading "Three portraits of Jimmy Ryce" »

Will Jeb Bush say enough is enough to Charlie Crist?

One has to wonder whether Jeb Bush is getting a bit weary of Charlie Crist evoking Bush's name at every opportunity. Crist was on television Wednesday talking to CNN's Piers Morgan and once again used the "my friend" Jeb Bush line.

Friend? Not likely.

Bush has made it pretty clear that he is not a big fan of the newly minted Democratic candidate for governor.  And while Bush may not be thrilled with Florida Governor Rick Scott , (his endosrement of Scott was a bit tepid), one can imagine him getting weary of Crist dropping his name.

This could be a dangerous political game Crist is playing. Bush has been relatively quiet about the governor's race. It is  in Crist's best interest that Bush remains silent. 

Each time Crist uses Bush as a prop, he run the risk that Bush will very publicly say - enough is enough.


UF poll gives Charlie Crist 7 point lead over Rick Scott and does O'Reilly want Crist to win?

Crist cartoon
While Charlie Crist is popping up all over the place promoting his new book, The Party’s Over: How The Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became A Democrat, a new University of Florida poll suggests that Crist is maintaining a healthy lead over Rick Scott.

Crist's attempt to return to the Florida governor's mansion as a Democrat gets a lot of scorn from his former fellow Republicans many of whom trash him at every opportunity.

Not Fox's Bill O'Reilly. Crist was on O'Reilly's program Tuesday night and the usually combative O'Reilly was like a puppy in Crist's lap. 

Was O'Reilly suggesting he wouldn't mind if Crist defeated Scott?

Does the spin stop there?

Read the poll results from UF below:

A poll of registered voters in Florida by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida in collaboration with UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research revealed high interest in Florida’s governor’s race, with 95 percent of likely voters reporting either “a great deal of interest” (66 percent) or “a fair amount of interest” (29 percent).

“For months now, political analysts have been describing Florida’s 2014 governor’s race as the top race in the nation. The only question has been whether Floridians are as interested in the race as national election forecasters are,” Susan MacManus, political science professor at the University of South Florida, said. “Now we know they are, and it’s only February.”

The poll also found that 47 percent of likely voters would vote for Democratic candidate Charlie Crist if the election were held today, while 40 percent would vote for Republican incumbent Rick Scott. In a matchup with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, 46 percent would vote for Nelson, a Democrat, and 42 percent would vote for Scott.

In a race against former state Sen. Nan Rich, 41 percent would vote for Scott and 36 percent would vote for Rich, a Democrat.

Sixty-three percent of respondents approved of Crist’s tenure as governor, and 27 percent expressed disapproval. When asked about Scott’s performance, 45 percent expressed approval, and 46 percent expressed disapproval.         

Continue reading "UF poll gives Charlie Crist 7 point lead over Rick Scott and does O'Reilly want Crist to win?" »

Charlie Crist brings out Democratic old guard in new video

One surprising appointment that Charlie Crist made when he was Florida's Republican governor was the selection of Democrat Bob Butterworth to run the troubled Department of Children and Family Services.

A former state attorney general who seriously considered running for governor, Butterworth had a formidable reputation for fairness, toughness and a no-nonsense approach.

He also was, and is, a devout Democrat. When Crist asked Butterworth to join his administration, Crist was suggesting that fixing DCF was more important to him than simply handing the job to a Republican.

It's not a great video, but it will be reassuring to those in the Democratic establishment who still have doubts about whether Crist is really one of them.