Charlie Crist was in fine form at a hometown fundraiser last night at his sister's waterfront home, sounding utterly contemptuous of Rick Scott, primed for a tough campaign, and, as always, perfectly comfortable pressing people to write the largest possible campaign checks. (Yes, he invited us to come after we reported his campaign was barring reporters).
The Republican-turned-Democrat made a point of reminding the more than 100 people gathered on Snell Isle that the cap on campaign contributions had increased from $500 to $3,000 on Nov. 1, and urging them to donate as much as they possibly can to combat the $100-million Gov. Scott's campaign has said it intends to spend.
"If you continue to load my gun, I will fire the cannon," Crist said.
He noted too that people can write unlimited checks to a seperate campaign committee.
"Steve, I'm talking to you," Crist said to a chuckling Steve Yerrid, a wealthy trial attorney from Tampa. "To those who have much, much is expected."
Crist scoffed at those calling him an opportunist, saying he was loving his life - making good money, spending plenty of time with Carole, his wife of five years - but finally could not stand what he was seeing from Rick Scott.
"It's an opportunity to talk into a $100-million meat grinder face first. If that's an opportunist, than I'm an opportunist."
Political candidates typically refrain from mentioning their opponent by name, but Crist said he won't hesititate to use the words "Rick Scott" - because of the visceral negative reaction those words draw from so many Floridians. "We need somebody back that has a heart and a soul and actually cares about people."
He also made clear that he won't hesitate to bring up Scott controversial record in the private sector, where he become a multi-millionaire leading the Columbia/HCA hospital chain that paid a record, $1.7-billion fine for Medicare fraud. In one deposition, Scott invoked the Fifth Amendment 75 times, to avoid answering questions.
"People like Al Capone do that," Crist said. "And they definitely don't get to be goveror. The governor of Illinois maybe, but not Florida."
The Republican Party of Florida's chairman, Lenny Curry, send out this response: “The fact that Charlie Crist is resorting to political attacks that invoke criminals just goes to show how desperate he is to cover up his record of job losses, higher debt and economic failure. It’s another opportunistic move from a career politician who has a history of lousy judgment when it comes to his own decisions and the people he surrounds himself with. Floridians can’t afford another four years with Charlie Crist in the Governor’s office."