TAMPA — With New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at his side, Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday touted the state's ongoing $1 billion investment in port and trade infrastructure while speaking at Port Tampa Bay.
"There are 680,000 direct and indirect jobs around our ports," said Scott, who was here as part of his "Let's Keep Florida Ports Working" tour. "It's the backbone of our state."
He zeroed in on Hillsborough County, noting it was first in the state in job creation over the past year.
Scott, Christie and others used the stop to attack Charlie Crist, Scott's likely Democratic rival come November, for not paying enough attention to Florida ports.
"When Charlie Crist was governor, he put no focus on our ports and he lost 150,000 trade jobs," said Scott, who said he's added back 120,000.
Both governors linked Crist to the national economic recession that caused the state to see staggering job losses and higher unemployment rates. Scott, who has governed during the slow recovery period, is overseeing job growth.
"You don't have to wonder what it would be like if Rick's opponent was elected governor," Christie said. "You've lived it. It's one of the easiest choices, I think, in America."
Christie said he plans to return to Florida frequently during Scott's campaign.
"I came from a cold and rainy New Jersey this morning, so this is really hard work, man," Christie said, smiling.
After a half-hour under the sun, Scott wrapped up the stop by coaxing the crowd into chanting a variation on his campaign slogan: "Let's keep Florida ports working!"
Reach Julie Kliegman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3401.