Saturday, April 21, 2018
Business

Rick Scott will be schmoozer-in-chief at GOP convention

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's image as an outsider will officially come to an end at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where he'll serve as a hometown host of the four-day party.

When he isn't polishing his convention speech, Scott will rub elbows with deep-pocketed GOP donors and reconnect with people who worked on his campaign two years ago.

It'll be a shift for Scott, who ran against — and soundly defeated — the Republican Party establishment in 2010.

For a governor who's definitely not a natural schmoozer, the role of party animal is not an easy transition.

"I hope you can join me for what is sure to be a wonderful experience!" Scott says in a "Dear Friend" Republican Party letter to several hundred party bigwigs, with special invitations to private events.

On Sunday, Aug. 26, Scott will host a private VIP reception from 7 to 9 p.m. on the waterfront patio of Jackson's Bistro, 601 S Harbor Island Blvd., Tampa.

The following night, from 5 to 7 p.m., the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will be the venue for Scott's "Grand Ole Reunion Party." The cocktail reception will salute the people who worked on his 2010 campaign, including Adam Hollingsworth, who now serves as Scott's third chief of staff.

At the convention, Republican insiders will be invited to the Florida Hospitality Suite, described as "8,200 square feet of food, drinks and fun for sponsors and delegates," along with a VIP lounge for "special guests" of the governor. The cocktails will begin flowing at 4 p.m. daily.

Other events for the Florida delegation include the Old Cigar Factory's hospitality reception; a Monday afternoon trip to Busch Gardens; a Dolphin Tale luncheon Tuesday at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium; a CSX cocktail reception on company rail cars Tuesday evening; an excursion to the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs on Wednesday and a Wednesday night concert by country singer John Anderson at the Innisbrook resort in Palm Harbor.

Scott, always on message, said his theme at the convention will be the same as when he ran for governor.

"What I'm going to talk about is pretty much what I did every day when I ran. It's how we get our state back to work," Scott said.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

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