Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Republican-turned-Democrat former Gov. Charlie Crist have each spent tens of millions of dollars on a tight race and turned Sunday to popular party figures to help them in the homestretch.
Vice President Joe Biden appeared with Crist at an event targeting Hispanic voters at Florida International University and then attended a rally at a black church in Fort Lauderdale. At the first stop, he noted the growing influence of Hispanics and said they could be at the point where they decide the outcome of this and every future election.
“Stand up and show it! Speak up! Vote!” Biden said to cheers.
Scott made his own pitch to Hispanic voters, showing up with former Gov. Jeb Bush and prominent Hispanic politicians from South Florida at an early afternoon rally that included plenty of Cuban coffee. Both Scott and Bush spoke to the crowd gathered at an outdoor Hialeah park in a mix of Spanish and English, telling them that they needed to vote because the outcome was important to their families.
“Charlie Crist has got to go,” Bush told the crowd, which at one point starting chanting his name.
Bush, who is one of a handful of potential 2016 presidential candidates hitting the state in the final days, agreed that Florida will play a pivotal role in the next presidential election. But he said his support had more to do with backing someone who has helped the state’s economy recover from the Great Recession.
“Rick Scott’s done a great job,” Bush said. “He’s kept his word and his opponent is a person who will say anything do anything depending on the circumstances to get elected.”
During Biden’s first Fort Lauderdale visit, he called Scott a tea party loyalist and Republican who’s lost touch with everyday working folks. He mentioned the push by Republicans – which was later repealed – to shorten voting hours. He urged the crowd to send a message with a strong turnout at the polls, reminding them that historical efforts to squash the black vote has “never stopped us before when it’s been a lot tougher.”
“Let’s get this straight,” Biden said. “We get out the vote, we win. People stay home, we lose. The community loses.”
During his Miami visit, Biden criticized Scott for not taking climate change seriously, handing out tax cuts to corporations while cutting school funding and trying to restrict abortion rights.
“He says when asked about climate change, ‘I’m not a scientist.’ But he sure the hell thinks he’s a doctor when he tells women what do,'” Biden said to the loudest applause of the event.
Scott chided Crist for backing legislation that let universities raise tuition and he proclaimed that he and other Republicans were fighting to help Americans achieve their dreams. Scott’s remarks at Hialeah, however, did not include the same sharp rhetoric linking Crist to President Barack Obama that he has made on other stops in the final days.
The campaigning by Bush and Biden came on the last day of early voting. So far, 2.9 million Floridians have cast ballots in the race, with nearly 1.2 million by Democrats and almost 1.3 million by Republicans.
On Monday, each candidate was also getting outside help. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, both potential 2016 presidential candidates, were planning to campaign with Scott, while former President Bill Clinton will appear at an election eve rally with Crist in Orlando.