(This story originally appeared in the Bradenton Herald)
BRADENTON – Patti Smithley waited patiently Monday afternoon inside VizCO-US Inc.
The 61-year-old was there to see Gov. Rick Scott at a 1:30 p.m. appearance at the plumbing products business, 3500 Ninth St. W., Bradenton.
“I feel he’s been a very good governor and we hope he gets re-elected,” she said. “I was hoping that he can keep our taxes down.”
Smithley was one of roughly 100 backers who showed up to hear Scott’s Labor Day speech in Manatee County as part of his “Let’s Keep Working” campaign tour.
Flanked by Attorney General Pam Bondi and several county officials, Scott stood before a podium in a small courtyard and thanked VizCO-US founder Chris Cantolino before launching into a speech peppered with jabs at opponent Charlie Crist.
“Charlie is a slick politician. He is a smooth talker and I’m not,” he said. “Charlie Crist will promise everything. He is all talk and he’s absolutely no action. He’ll tell you whatever you want to hear but nothing will happen. His four years here, he was a big-talker, lost 800,000 jobs, $8 billion more debt, cut education funding, didn’t focus on the environment. He was no action, but he’s a good talker.”
Scott recognized Manatee County Commissioners Robin DiSabatino and John Chappie, Manatee County Commission Chairman Larry Bustle and Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant, among others.
Scott spoke about his background, including his “tough” mother and being from a “family that struggled for money.” He also spoke about his time in the U.S. Navy and marrying at 19.
“I have led the dream of this country — the dream that anything is possible,” Scott said.
The governor then targeted Crist again.
“He believed, in contrast, to the Barack Obama playbook,” he said. “What do Barack Obama and Charlie Crist believe in? More taxes. More regulation. More debt. Bigger government. That does not work in this state. We — in contrast — we’re heading in the right direction and we’re rejecting the Obama playbook that Charlie Crist has lived by.”
The crowd responded with boos in support of Scott’s statement. He added his administration “has been cleaning Charlie Crist’s mess for three and a half years.
“Are we going to let him come back?” Scott asked the crowd, which responded with a hearty “No!”
Scott insisted Florida needs more jobs.
“Charlie believes, like Barack Obama, that money grows on trees. How many of us believe that?” Scott said. “We know it doesn’t grow on trees. Charlie Crist absolutely believes it grows on trees. He raised taxes when we were going through tough times in this state. He raised taxes — $2.2 billion — when he was governor.”
Before introducing Bondi, Scott encouraged his supporters to vote and promised Florida would be the No. 1 place to raise a family and “live the American dream of jobs and better education.”
Bondi raved about Scott.
“Not only is he the greatest governor in the entire world in everything he’s doing, you’re hearing the actions that he’s taken,” she said. “This man is the most humble, honest, ethical man I have ever met and I am so very, very proud to call him my friend and you should be so very, very proud to have him as our governor.”
Just before Scott arrived on his mega-bus, a handful of people from multiple Democratic groups hung outside the gates of VizCO-US with posters in support of a “Scott Free Florida.”
Mary Duda, member of Manatee Democrats, held up a sign that read: “Scott — Too Shady for our Sunshine State.”
“He’s got a poor background and we don’t support a man like him who we think is a crook,” she said.
Keep Morse, 71, of northwest Bradenton, came to see what Scott had to say. After the governor’s speech, Morse looked pleased.
“I thought it was excellent. He got a lot of verbal support from Pam Bondi,” he said. “I think I know him a little bit better now than before… I’m glad I came today.”