TAMPA — Florida is winning in the competition for jobs, Gov. Rick Scott told supporters in Tampa Friday night.
Scott was the keynote speaker at the Hillsborough County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day Dinner at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, another of his several recent visits to Tampa.
In the little over three years since he became governor, the private sector has added 563,000 jobs, he said.
Tampa and Orlando in particular have seen growth, he said.
"All of our state is growing well but these two communities are growing very rapidly," he said after his speech. "We're having lots of conversations about jobs and getting more jobs here."
Scott also used the appearance to jab his opponent Charlie Crist.
"We can go back to a governor that has great talk," Scott said. "Look at his actions over those four years and look at what happened to our families."
Campaign volunteers have already knocked on 120,000 doors in the state, he said.
"Whatever walk of life, we're good for them," Scott said of the Republican party. "I have not met a Republican elected official who doesn't know the importance of grass roots. That's how we win."
Scott kept Crist's announcement of a Cuba visit out of his keynote address, but later criticized the plan and that country's lack of democracy and freedom of speech. "I'm going to focus on Florida citizens. I'm not going to focus like Charlie is on some other country," Scott said.
Scott was introduced at the event by Attorney General Pam Bondi.
"Rick runs our state like a CEO because that's what he is, and that's what we need," she said. "And that's why our state is thriving."
Before Friday's gathering, State Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, and about half a dozen people showed up outside to protest Scott's visit. Dudley criticized Scott for not repealing the utility tax or pushing for a Medicaid expansion.
"He utters these words but we're looking for deeds. His deeds don't match his words," Dudley said.
Keeley Sheehan can be reached at email@example.com.