1. Florida Politics

Carlton: Scott no stranger to 'PR tours' himself

Published Apr. 17, 2014

When something big happens in politics — like, say, the resignation of the Health and Human Services secretary who was in charge during the flawed rollout of Obamacare — it is fair game for both sides of the aisle to weigh in. To critique, to defend, to say I told you so. It's politics.

So in a statement last week, Gov. Rick Scott added his two cents on the departure of Kathleen Sebelius, including a not-unexpected excoriation of Obamacare. Fair enough.

But his take ended with this notable harrumph: that Sebelius' "numerous trips to the Sunshine State were nothing more than PR tours."

And, really?

This, from a guy who has attempted more makeovers than a middle school slumber party? Who, since just mid March, has spent $5.2 million on TV ads?

For the record, the governor has made a few PR tours himself around these parts of late. There he was at the Port Tampa Bay touting jobs numbers. At a Tampa retirement home expounding again on Obamacare. At a Tampa high school blaming the cost of college on a certain former governor. At the opening of an interstate widening project, a Tampa elementary doling out school recognition money, and a suburban car dealership, talking up that $25 car registration break he hopes will help his critics forget the last three years.

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Speaking of governors, an interesting encounter this week between Scott's second-in-command and his challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist, provided a glimpse of what this election is sure to bring.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera was speaking to reporters in Palm Beach County about guess-who's political shortcomings when guess-who himself ambled up for a handshake.

"Good to see you," Crist said to his opponent's deputy, ending with, "say hi to your family for me." And that easy Crist-ness may be the biggest re-election obstacle of all for Scott.

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Speaking of politics, the libertarians are coming!

The party that espouses smaller government, less taxes and more freedom holds its state convention in Tampa beginning May 16 at the downtown Tampa Howard Johnson to help decide "the direction of their party in 2014."

I know, it's too easy. How do you hold a directional meeting for people who don't like to be told what to do?

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Finally, one we hadn't heard before from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, frequent giver of speeches that relentlessly tout his town.

I haven't heard the one lately about "giving Tampa its wings" — cue Bette Midler — but he often mentions two of his favorite subjects, daughters Colleen, 8, and Grace, who turns 13 today. At a recent luncheon, the mayor took a moment to share two personal dad-with-a-shotgun moments.

When he was first elected, his oldest thought she would be driven to school daily by the Secret Service. No, the mayor told her. But when you start dating, the Tampa Police will drive you.

Then there was the day a group of Cub Scouts visited the mayor's office. He gathered them together to dispense this piece of advice: "Stay away from my daughters."

To which one intrepid Scout raised his hand and said, "Okay. But what about your wife?"