Gov. Rick Scott's two-week campaign bus tour rolled through the Panhandle Thursday, where he cast himself as an economic problem-solver in contrast to the opportunism of his opponent and predecessor, Democrat Charlie Crist.
Riding in a giant blue bus adorned with white "Let's Keep Working" signs, Scott mingled with customers at The Donut Hole in Destin and rallied Republicans, who chanted "Four more years!" at a sparsely-attended event at a Crestview Buick dealer. On Friday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, president of the Republican Governors Association, will help Scott rally the GOP faithful in Panama City.
"Charlie Crist is a slick politician. A smooth talker. I'm not," Scott said at the dealership. "Charlie Crist is all talk and no action."
Traveling with the governor, Attorney General Pam Bondi picked up on the theme, opening her speech with this: "Rick Scott is not a slick politician, nor a slick talker. What he is is an honest, ethical, hard-working governor."
It's an obvious attempt to turn Scott's weakness into an asset by making his stiffness appear more real than Crist's "slick" style.
Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera both ripped into Crist as an opportunist who was more interested in the vice presidency or a U.S. Senate seat who as governor neglected jobs and raised state debt. "The four years he was governor, he didn't even want to be governor," Lopez-Cantera said.
Scott appeared more relaxed on the trail and he spent more time fielding reporters' questions. He knows his audience too. In the deeply-red Panhandle, he repeatedly tied Crist to President Barack Obama, but there was no mention of Republican priorities that do not play well there, such as his support for in-state tuition for undocumented immigrant students.