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The PJ Tatler

by
Stephanie Maier

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January 31, 2012 - 7:02 am

It’s Florida’s big day to have a voice in this race, and already there’s a strange, de’ja’vu-ish sort of thing going on as I have flashbacks to Rick Scott’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign, wherein many of the same observations can be made.

If Floridians award our fifty delegates to Mitt Romney as a protest to Newt’s 1997 ethics violations in Congress, it would be the height of hypocrisy, since this is the same state that put Naples millionaire Rick Scott in the governor’s mansion right on the heels of his own HCA scandal, the largest Medicare fraud case in U.S. history. That case ended with the hospital giant paying a record $1.7 billion in damages.

That wasn’t a concern for the majority of Florida voters, but Newt’s multiple marriages and his troubles with Congress in 1997 may trump that in favor of Romney, whose own life seems to mirror many of the same attributes as Scott.

Both 2010 Rick Scott and 2012 Mitt Romney are millionaire business men who have absolutely put profit over pretense to climb the ladder of success, and have had to possess egos the size of Mt. Kilimanjaro to do it.

The moral of the story: As Florida heads to the polls, don’t think for a moment that Mitt-the-Mormon is in any way more ethical than Newt Gingrich.

Don’t believe me? Let us hearken back to the campaign trail of two years ago and see the remarkable and eerily familiar comparisons between presidential candidate Mitt Romney and gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott:

Marc Caputos’ 2010 article from the Tampa Bay Times, could in so many ways be about Mitt Romney today:

“Rick Scott’s campaign for the Florida governor’s mansion is starting to look like his latest business acquisition. In the 1990s, Scott exploded on the business scene and reshaped the hospital industry thanks to financial moxie, relentless drive and a salesman’s knack for exploiting opportunities missed by others.”

By comparison, Mitt Romney’s FL campaign in the presidential primary is starting to look like his latest business acquisition. He’s ahead in the polls largely because he is outspending his opponents by tens of millions of dollars in glitzy ads that eviscerate his main competition, Newt Gingrich, rather than focusing on his own solutions. At least 17 of the 24+ million dollars spent in Florida have been from the Romney campaign, and as a result, Romney has been able to reshape the political scene and promote his ObamaCare agenda thanks to his financial moxie, relentless drive and a salesman’s knack for exploiting opportunities missed by others.” (Yep, that sounds familiar).

According to a recent piece in Forbes Magazine, “RomneyCare was more of an insurance bill than a means to cut healthcare costs…to pay for the extra coverage, the state had to find an additional $350 million from its own budget. On balance, RomneyCare costs Massachusetts an extra $100 million a year from its state budget. Not bad for a state with a $30 million budget.”

But will Floridians get the message before it’s too late? Not likely, as the comparison of the voting history continues.
Regarding Rick Scott’s campaign for Governor:

“Those attributes have made the Naples millionaire the frontrunner for governor today. A political newcomer, Scott unexpectedly entered the race in April, hired a top-notch campaign staff and leveraged his sizable fortune to surge ahead of Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Aug. 24 Republican primary…”

Likewise, those attributes have made Massachusetts millionaire Mitt Romney the frontrunner for president today. As Romney entered the race, he hired a top-notch campaign staff and leveraged his sizable fortune to surge ahead of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (leveraged a little and raised a lot from super PACS and millionaire buddies). It seems that he who has the most cash wins, regardless of his record on the issues.

Regarding Scott: “As head of the mammoth Columbia/HCA hospital chain in the 1990s, Scott acknowledges, he was “responsible” for what became the largest Medicare fraud case in U.S. history, totaling $1.7 billion.

Romney: While he understandably tries to push a moral issue down the throats of FL voters regarding Newt Gingrich’s ethics violations in 1997, let’s face it: if FL voters can usher in Rick Scott after his HCA scandal but can’t move on from Newt’s ’97 debacle, then Floridians get what they deserve when Romney is elected and slams them with a huge health care mandate just like his buddy Barack Obama. They’ll also have no room to complain when Romney goes to bed with China in a business-as-usual scenario that will be full of campaign rhetoric but will end up with Romney-style profiteering.

The similarities are painfully obvious. But, just like Governor Scott, Romney brushes off accusations that his campaign feels more confident spewing venom and vitriol against Gingrich than focusing on the solutions Romney offers for the economy or other issues (Isn’t it amazing, folks, how quickly the devout Mormon can turn ugly when power and ego are on the line)?

And, like Governor Scott, the Romney sees the criticism as trivial:

“Scott, 57, brushes it off – sometimes literally, by waving his hand as if shooing gnats.” Likewise, Romney brushes off Newt’s accusations (or any other for that matter) with a flippant wave and a smirk, shrugging it off as just being the ugly side of politics. This week he even had the low class to say that he “felt sad” for Gingrich, hearkening to some kind of school yard thug who can’t make a point based on his own merits but instead finds strength through demeaning others.
More flashbacks from Caputo’s article:

“Scott is a study in polarizing contrasts: he’s arrogant or humble. He’s a visionary who wants to revolutionize health care, or he’s blinded by ambition and a lust for profits.”

Sound familiar?? When it suits him, Romney is the humble Mormon family man, and when it doesn’t, he’s a cutthroat egotistical profiteer who’s out to win at all costs, no matter who he has to pay, what he has to say, or how he has to pray.

Perhaps Kenneth Rapoza says it best in Forbes when he laments the predictions of Gringrich regarding his own campaign:

“I believe the Republican Party will not nominate a pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax increase moderate from Massachusetts,” Gingrich said after attending a Baptist church in Lutz, Florida.
Rapoza: “Oh, yes they will.”

To that I plead: Say it ain’t so, Florida, say it ain’t so…

Stephanie Maier is an international political and development consultant of fifteen years who's worked in twelve countries. She has worked for the GOP of Florida and for the Bush/Cheney Victory 2000 Florida campaign.
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