Former Gov. Charlie Crist defended his record leading Florida through the recession and attacked Gov. Rick Scott’s record on everything from education funding to rejecting federal dollars during a speech Thursday to the Florida Press Association.
Former state Sen. Nan Rich of Weston, who is running against Crist in the Democratic primary, speaks Friday at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. Scott declined an invitation to appear at the press association event where Crist faced questions from Miami Herald editorial page editor Nancy Ancrum, Sun-Sentinel editorial board editor Rosemary Goudreau and AP reporter Brendan Farrington. Crist gave familiar responses to questions, including why he refuses to debate Rich. “I am running against $100 million,” Crist said. “I really don’t have the luxury to take my eye off the ball.” Scott’s side is expected to raise $100 million with the help of national groups and the Republican Party of Florida. That’s likely far more than Crist and the Democrats will be able to raise, though they brought in the star power of President Bill Clinton last month, who helped the party raise about $1 million at its annual dinner. Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, and the Republican Party of Florida have released a total of about 16 TV ads over several months, and among the cities targeted is Tampa, Crist’s homebase. The ads appear to have helped Scott climb in the polls — a recent poll by Saint Leo University found the two candidates in a statistical tie, while a poll by the same university six months ago showed Crist ahead 46-34 percent.
The Democratic Party has released about three TV ads. Crist just released his first TV ad this week in which he promised if elected he would raise the minimum wage, demand equal pay for women and restore funding for public schools.