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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeb Bush, tea party activists rally behind Rick Scott as doubts linger



On the campaign's final weekend, Rick Scott chartered an 18-passenger Saab 340 jet to ferry him to four major media markets
Saturday, ending in Tampa Bay with a rally featuring Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

P1030847_0.JPGIt was another governor -- Jeb Bush -- who boosted Scott at a morning rally at an Orlando airport hangar.

"There 's a cloud on our state. There's a lot of pessimism in our state right now," Bush told a crowd of 200. "I think we need a can-do leader that lifts the cloud, that inspires us to be better and to do better ... Rick Scott understands that because he has lived the American dream."

Scott is "the right guy at the right time," Bush told reporters afterward.

At a 500-strong tea party rally in a large field in Maxville, outside Jacksonville, Scott attracted support and doubts. The crowd cheered Scott's
criticism of health care reform, federal stimulus money and calls for lower taxes, but some in the crowd are still skeptical as to whether Scott has explained the Medicare fraud at the Columbia/HCA hospital chain he headed.

At the rally, the Rev. Ted St. Pierre and his wife Gail, of Palm Coast, like Scott and think he'll win, but said he should be more forthright on
the fraud issue.

"I'm tired of explaining it to everybody," Gail St. Pierre said. "Everybody I meet, they say, 'Well, you know, he's got that Medicare thing." ... They end up believing me, but it's a huge effort to explain to everybody who wants to vote for him but just has that little tiny bit of doubt."

-- Steve Bousquet

[Last modified: Saturday, October 30, 2010 3:25pm]


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