Making his second trip in a week to the Villages, Rick Scott made a pitch to a key constituency of dedicated, conservative voters as his campaign touted a new lead in the polls.
"Today was a good day for us," he said.
The crowd -- which waited in a ballroom for 45 minutes Scott, who was late -- took time to warm to Scott but applauded at his support for the Second Amendment and tougher immigration laws.
Appealing to the anti-incumbent sentiment, and poking at his rival Bill McCollum, Scott said Tallahassee need new blood. “If we keep electing the same politicians who think the same way, we’re going to get the same results,” he told the crowd.
Robert Phillips, a former corporate executive, hit Scott in a question about the $1.7 billion fine paid by his former hospital chain for fraud. Scott gave his stock answer -- taking responsibility and saying he wished he had more auditors. But it didn't satisfy Phillips. "All he's told us is trust him," said Phillips, an undecided Republican. "That's not enough."
Scott flew to Sumter County on a private chartered jet from Sarasota where he addressed a group of 400 who crowded into a restaurant to for pie and politics. In the Q&A, Rosemary Currie asked Scott and McCollum to stop with the negative advertising. The campaigns and related political groups have spent more than $35 million in advertising -- the bulk of which is negative.
Scott demurred. But didn't take the pledge. “None of us enjoy any negative ads," he said. "What we have to be doing is telling people the difference between all the candidates."