Charlie Crist's campaign in recent days has been in full outrage mode, suggesting that Rick Scott and his allies have hit "a new low" in sleazy, negative campaigning. Why? Because Scott's Let's Get to Work Committee released an ad yesterday that featured an image of former First Lady Carole Crist and noting that the Crists are declining to release her tax returns.
"What's he hiding?" the ad asks, while Crist campaign adviser Kevin Cate contends targeting a candidate's spouse in a TV ad is unprecedented in Florida and beyond the pale.
But why shouldn't the public have a look at the investments of the woman Crist says has the greatest influence on his decision-making? Heck, why isn't the Crist campaign demanding to see more disclosure of the trusts Rick Scott put under the control of his wife?
Team Crist cried foul earlier this week when Progressive Choice, widely believed to be a GOP front group helping Scott, started airing radio ads that the Crist campaign claims associates Crist with slavery. Here's the script.
The old chain gangs. They were called barbaric, humiliating, reminiscent of slavery. Charlie Crist didn't care. As state senator he wanted to put Florida prisoners back in shackles, men chained together wilting in the hot sun as heavy leg irons dug deep into their skin. But to Chain Gang Charlie it didn't matter - as long as he was tough on crime and easy on guns. Guns? Crist opposed criminal background checks and the waiting period on gun purchases. As governor Crist went even further, stopping even the most sensible gun control bills - allowing weapons to flow into our cities and imposing some of the harshest sentencing guidelines in the country for non-violent offenders. Chain Gang Charlie said yes to guns and yes to the laws that would have put Floridians back in shackles. It's time Chain Gang Charlie answer for his record. Is he the real progressive he claims to be? Florida deserves the answer. Paid for by Progressive Choice.
It's a tough spot. But while I'll leave it to PolitiFact to judge whether Crist suppported enacting the toughest sentencing guidelines in the country for non-violent offenders, everything else in the ad seems pretty accurate. Crist certainly didn't mind when the St. Pete Times derogatively labeled him "Chain Gang Charlie" in the early 1990s, when he wasn't courting African-Ameriican voters. He embraced the label then, and he owns it today.
I'm reminded of something a veteran Republican pol named Charlie Crist once said of to Marco Rubio when he was complaining about tough attacks: Welcome to the NFL.