David Axelrod on Florida's significance, Rick Scott and Charlie Crist
David Axelrod, Barack Obama's chief political strategist, discusses Florida '12, the "buyer's remorse" some voters feel over Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist's "gutsy" decision.
"I never attach a must-win to any state," Axelrod said in an interview at his office in Chicago. "Especially because we won on a fairly large battlefield last time, and we we're going to do that again. But anyone who analyzes this would have to say Florida is in the upper echelon of states and we're going to spend a great deal of time there, and a great deal of energy there. It is a very, very significant state."
Scott once looked like he could damage the president's hopes in the biggest swing state. Now he looks like a plus. Scott is widely disliked among voters, polls show, as are other Republican governors who have pursued heavy budget cuts, including public employee benefits.
"My sense is that independent voters are feeling some buyer's remorse from the Florida gubernatorial election, and that could be a factor in 2012," Axelrod said.
Axelrod had kind words for former Gov. Crist, who was the lone Republican governor to stand with Obama as he pushed his $787 billion economic stimulus. That decision was costly, if not deadly, giving Marco Rubio an anchor in which to oppose Crist in the U.S. Senate race.
"I don't think he did it for the president; he did it for his state," Axelrod said. "He stepped up and it was a gutsy thing to do."
Asked if Crist could help in the campaign, Axelrod said, "We welcome any and all support and he's someone who the president has regard for."