Scott recalls hanging chad: Obama voters now feel like Palm Beach’s Buchanan supportersby John Kennedy | September 24th, 2011
Gov. Rick Scott drew cheers from Presidency 5 delegates Saturday, saying he expected the winner of the Florida Republican primary to emerge as the party’s nominee — with a key first step on that path being the upcoming straw poll.
“You will send a very strong signal about who will be America’s choice,” Scott told the 3,000 delegates. ”As Florida goes, so goes the nation. And as you go, so goes Florida.”
Scott pointed out that victories in straw polls at earlier installments of the party convention gave an important push to Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole. Later though, speaking to reporters, the governor conceded that Saturday’s outcome may not prove so decisive.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is close to Scott. is narrowly leading in Florida over second-place Mitt Romney, according to a poll this week. But Perry stumbled in Thursday night’s nationally televised debate, and his struggle to explain his stance on illegal immigration seems to have cost him support among at least a portion of P-5 atttendees.
“There’s all these expectations games, I didn’t have to deal with that in my race,” Scott said. “If he doesn’t win, he’ll be frustrated. But I think the positives are that whoever wins, it shows what people in this state are thinking about. If you want people to be active in your campaign, these are the issues you need to focus on, and have a message.
“I personally believe that the most important message is going to be jobs,” Scott added. “But we’ll see….this is the real group of activists, the people who care about this race today.”
While Florida delegates may not send as clear a message as they have in past conventions, Scott drew cheers from the crowd with a direct attack on President Obama. He recalled the 2000 presidential election, marked by hanging-chad and voter confusion.
“There were all those Palm Beach voters who couldn’t believe they voted for Pat Buchanan,” Scott remembered. “Well, since 2008, I’ve met people all over the country who can’t believe they’ve voted for Barack Obama. I’m absolutely convinced, they’ll get it right next year.”
Scott described Saturday’s speech as among the three biggest of his short political career. His inaugural address, his State of the State speech to open this year’s Legislature also are up there, the governor said.
For Scott, the speech also placed the one-time political outsider firmly within Florida’s Republican establishment.
Scott also brought many in the crowd to their feet by boasting that he had not wavered from his stance that “businesses create new jobs, not government and for “sticking to my principles.”
“I did not run to be voted most popular, I ran so that Florida could be most likely to succeed,” Scott said.