1. Florida Politics

Politicians sending mixed message on economy

Published Jun. 24, 2012

Thank you, Gov. Rick Scott, for your success in helping steadily push down Florida's unemployment rate.

No, actually, thank you, President Barack Obama, for what you've done to nudge our economy in the right direction.

It's an awkward element of political messaging in this presidential campaign year that while Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney likes to focus on the weakness of the economy, Republican Gov. Scott — and Democrat Obama — are much more interested in touting the positive trends. Former state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami, noted on his blog recently how Scott and the Florida GOP constantly hail the governor's economic policies while trashing the president's.

"I guess the way this works is any job Florida loses is the fault of the president and his economic policies; and any job we gain is due to the governor's efforts," Gelber wrote. "I am familiar with this argument style, having observed my 11-year-old daughter negotiate with her 8-year-old brother. 'Heads I win, tails you lose.' … Of course last time I checked Florida was part of the United States, so the notion that you can simultaneously blame the president and credit the governor for the same job situation is ridiculous."

As Air Force One headed to Florida last week, deputy press secretary Josh Earnest (a veteran of Jim Davis' gubernatorial campaign) happily touted to the press corps statistics released by the Florida Republican Party.

"Specifically, the Florida Republicans note that the unemployment rate in Florida has declined for 11 consecutive months and that more than 99,000 private-sector jobs have been created in Florida alone over the last year and a half," Earnest said. "Yet the president is not satisfied. And unfortunately for our economy, Republicans in Congress won't act on legislation submitted by the president that would put by our estimates — or by some estimates, I should say, these are actually outside estimates — 1 million people back to work. This stalemate isn't good for our economy, but it reflects the choice in this election."

Naturally the state party was none too pleased.

"Florida has seen increases in job creation and economic growth in spite of what the Obama administration and Democrats in Washington have done to hinder it, and that is thanks to the common-sense policies put in place by Gov. Scott," responded Florida GOP chairman Lenny Curry. "However, Florida now needs a national partner in the White House who will help amplify the growth we have seen in our state, and that is exactly what Gov. Mitt Romney will do."

Talking strategy

Gov. Scott is preparing his talking points should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn all or much of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. A decision is due this week.

Lane Wright, the governor's press secretary, emailed the strategy on Tuesday to Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Kasich is a Republican, like Scott, and Ohio is one of the 25 states that joined Florida in fighting the individual mandate.

If the court rules in Florida's favor, Wright notes, the governor's office will contrast the national economy with Florida's. The message will be the national economy under Obama's leadership is in "shambles" while Florida, under Scott, is doing well.

When it comes to health care, the existing national system will be touted as one that works but has become too expensive. Scott will begin talking up "four pillars of reform" to fix the issues: "increased consumer choice, increased provider competition, increased provider accountability and price transparency, and increased personal responsibility."

On local TV

Marielena Stuart, the little-known Republican U.S. Senate candidate and tea party activist who recently won a Pinellas GOP straw poll, appears today on Political Connections on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Quote of the week

"Rick Scott doesn't seem to have any political skills at all. … I'd give him a B for governing. I'd give him an A for strangeness." That's former Florida Republican chairman Tom Slade, speaking about Scott to Bloomberg News.

A show of support

In case anyone had lingering doubt that Democratic Party leaders prefer Jessica Ehrlich over Nina Hayden as the nominee to take on U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, Obama settled it Friday. Ehrlich was invited to greet the president as he stepped off Air Force One in Tampa.

Times staff writer Tia Mitchell contributed to this week's Buzz. Follow Adam Smith on Twitter: @AdamSmithTimes.


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