Rudy Throws a Fastball Near Charlie’s Chin - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Rudy Throws a Fastball Near Charlie’s Chin

“I’ve never met a person in politics I disrespect more than Charlie Crist,” former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani said while campaigning for incumbent Republican governor Rick Scott in South Florida Wednesday. Strong stuff, even from Da Mare, who has never been a non-directive counselor, and is not the first person one associates with the word reticence.

Giuliani’s beef with Crist may be at least as much personal as political. Giuliani has grumped over the years that in 2008, when Giuliani was seeking the Republican nomination for president, Crist told him three times that he would endorse him. This was a big deal then, because at the time Crist was the Republican governor of Florida with high polls numbers, and the Florida primary was coming up, a primary very important to Giuliani’s election strategy.

After promising Giuliani he would support him, and promising Mitt Romney that he would not endorse anyone, Crist, laboring under the fanciful delusion that John McCain would include him on the Republican ticket, endorsed the Arizona senator just days before the Florida primary. McCain won the Florida primary, won the Republican nomination, and lost the presidency. He even lost Florida. Giuliani dropped out.

So Charlie Crist’s word and about a dollar in most places, Rudy seems to be saying, will get you a cup of coffee.

But Giuliani did not just indulge a snit with Crist. He also whooped up Scott and the job Scott has done as Florida’s governor for the last four years.

“I can’t think of a governor in this country that has done a better job than Governor Scott,” Giuliani said in Miami.

Giuliani is certainly a heavy hitter, one with appeal to Republican moderates as well as the movement conservatives in the party. Thanks to his record of cleaning up crime in New York, and his reputation for competence and toughness, he also appeals to many independents, even some Democrats. This makes him a good face for the Scott campaign, which could use a few appealing surrogates to take the place of the stiff and inarticulate candidate himself.

He can’t help it, and it has nothing to do with his policies or the way he has administered his office for four years. But Scott is a truly strange-looking and strange-sounding individual. When I see him approaching a microphone I almost expect him to say, in an R2D2 voice, “We mean you no harm, Earth people.” Scott’s diction is terrible, and it’s hard to understand the sentences he spits out. And once you’ve understood them you are entitled to wonder if it has been worth the effort. There is a case to be made for his administration, but Scott is not good at making it. He should probably let others make the case for him. The less voters see of Scott between now and November 5, the better his chances. But nobody asked me.

We’ll see if even Da Mare can move this contest off dead even. Endless appearances by national and Florida political household names for both candidates, and three testy but unedifying debates, have failed to move the polls on this one out of the margin of error, where they have been for weeks. Neither candidate can pull ahead, no matter who says or does what.

The latest Quinnipiac poll, conducted between Oct. 14 and Oct. 20 (one day before the final debate), shows Crist and Scott locked at 42 percent each. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie has the support of seven percent. When Wylie is left out, Scott and Crist deadlock at 44 percent.

Women favor Crist by seven percent in the latest Quinnipiac; men favor Scott by eight. Crist wins independents by 41 to 39 percent. In the favorable/unfavorable derby, Crist is underwater 42-47, Scott by 40-48.

More than 1.1 million Floridians have already voted, either by absentee ballot or early voting at the polls. Republicans enjoy a 138K advantage in absentee ballots returned, but Democrats usually edge Republicans in early voting.

This one remains about as tight as the law allows. The winner will likely not be decided by nasty and expensive TV ads, by retail campaigning, or by surrogates like Da Mare whooping up their man. It will likely be determined by which party gets its faithful to vote. Most Floridians, tired of the nasty TV ads and the robo-calls, would readily agree to vote today if the campaign would just be over.

Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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