New Jersey’s governor spent a weekend campaigning for Florida Gov. Rick Scott in mid-September and told voters in the Sunshine State the Scott-Crist race comes down to the issue of trust.
“There is no clearer choice in America,” said Chris Christie. “While you have honesty and integrity in Rick Scott, you don’t in Charlie Crist.”
Crist campaign officials agree that trust is the dominant issue in the campaign and said the latest Rick Scott ad, “Swindle,” proves Christie was wrong. Their man is the trustworthy candidate, not Scott.
A Crist campaign press release claims the Scott campaign’s “Swindle” ad that links Crist to a Ponzi scheme is only the latest time Scott has misled voters.
But what does trust really mean to voters? Will it be enough to put Scott into office for another four years? Newest polling data says “yes.”
Scott was coming to the end of a two-week bus trip through Florida pushing his promise to cut $1 billion in taxes when Christie joined him for a weekend of campaigning as the chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Along with bringing up the trust issue, Christie pointed to Crist’s political resume, which includes stints as Florida’s attorney general and as governor. And those were just the elections he won.
Crist also made two tries to win the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), first as a Republican in the GOP primary and then as an independent the following November.
“Charlie is obviously a very confused guy,” Christie said. “To show you the state of New Jersey is a place of warm, loving, people; you defeat Charlie Crist’s butt on Nov. 4 and we’ll take him to New Jersey and we will get him unconfused.”
The Crist campaign sidestepped the multiple political personalities attack to focus on the “Swindle” ad.
The unidentified narrator of the ad ties Crist to Scott Rothstein, who was convicted of running a Ponzi scheme in Florida.
The Crist campaign has always disputed the veracity of the ad and now the Scott team has backed off the Crist-Rothstein connection.
The Miami Herald reported that Scott now says the ad was never meant to suggest Crist participated in the Ponzi scheme for which Scott Rothstein was convicted.
However, the Scott campaign said it was “absolutely true” that Crist did “swindle” the narrator of the ad because he “promised things that didn’t come true.”
Scott accused Crist of flip-flopping from being a Reagan Republican who opposed tax and tuition increases, even though he eventually approved both as governor of Florida.
Scott echoed Christie in raising the multiple political personality issue: “Charlie was a Republican, then an independent, then a Democrat,” and asserted that was what the ad was really saying.
But as the Miami Herald pointed out, the narrator of the “Swindle” ad, who turned out to be a Fort Lauderdale investor, never mentioned any of that in the ad.
Dean Kretschmar, who was identified as the result of a Miami Herald investigation, speaks only of political money buying judges and the Ponzi investment operation that forced some people into bankruptcy.
Kretschmar was one of the investors who were taken in by the Rothstein scheme.
The Crist campaign also pointed to a Scott campaign ad that portrayed a convicted human trafficker who supported Castro’s government in Cuba as a businessman supporting the Republican.
Trust aside, a Sept. 16 poll WFLA-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows Scott is pulling away from Crist.
The weekly survey that was released one month before ballots were scheduled to be mailed out to voters showed Scott was five points ahead of Crist, 44-39 percent.
Support for Scott fell by 1 point in the survey as compared to the previous week, while Crist lost 5 points.
The survey shows Crist is losing support among male and independent voters.
It was the first time the WFLA-TV/SurveyUSA poll had shown Crist below 40 percent in the six months that SurveyUSA had been tracking the race for the television station.
But still more people dislike both candidates than like the men. Crist’s negative net favorability rating is minus 14. Thirty-three percent of voters like him while 47 percent do not.
Scott is in much better shape when it comes to negative net favorability, but still his rating is minus 5. Forty-four percent of voters don’t like him, while 39 percent have a favorable opinion of their governor.
Adrian Wyllie, the Libertarian candidate in the gubernatorial election, gained 4 points, nearly doubling his voter support in the WFLA/SurveyUSA poll to 7 percent.
Scientific polling aside, the gut instinct of more than 130 of what the Tampa Bay Times considers to be “Florida’s savviest political hands” is telling them Scott will win.
More than 66 percent of those participating, including 38 percent of the Democrats, believe Crist is running out of time to change the narrative of the race and Scott will win.
The Tampa Bay Times admits its Florida Insider poll is unscientific, but also believes nobody in Florida knows more about the state’s political scene.