Counterpunching Republican attacks, Democrat Charlie Crist is airing a new web ad that says "it was guys like Rick Scott that crashed our economy."
The 30-second spot, narrated by Crist as he looks into the camera, is a response to last week's Republican Party of Florida web ad that says Crist "ran away" and did too little as the economy crashed while he was governor from 2007-2011.
"Which governor took Florida to the bottom?" an announcer asks. "Charlie Crist. What's worse, he didn't stay to fix the mess. He ran away, tried to go to Washington instead. Charlie Crist: slick politician, lousy governor."
In denying blame and counter-accusing, Crist is using the issue to point out that Scott was a mergers-and-acquisitions guru in the 1990s and founded the country's largest hospital chain, Columbia/HCA, which was fined a record $1.7 billion for healthcare fraud that largely occurred on Scott's watch.
Scott was haunted by the fine when, as a political newcomer, he ran for office in 2010. But Scott prevailed in the Republican primary and the general election, in part because he said he "took responsibility." Scott, who was forced to resign from Columbia/HCA in 1997, never admitted guilt and was never charged or interviewed by the FBI in the fraud case.
For months, Scott and the state GOP have tried to hang the economic meltdown on Crist's neck. In September, Scott said "we never should have had that downturn" and suggested Crist was the cause. But he wouldn't elaborate.
The criticism of Crist hasn't appeared to have much success.
A Quinnipiac University Poll released last week indicated Crist was beating Scott by 8 percentage points and that by 47-42 percent Florida voters believed Crist would do a better job handling the economy than Scott.
Here's the text of Crist's ad:
Rick Scott is blaming me for the financial crisis? That’s ridiculous.
Here’s the truth: The recession wasn’t caused by me, or by you. You know who caused it? Greedy Wall Street bankers and corporate takeover artists.
In other words: Guys like Rick Scott. His company committed outright fraud. So when you see his ads, remember it was guys like Rick Scott that crashed our economy.
I’m Charlie Crist. I work for you, the people. Always have. And always will