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You would expect Rick Scott, a Tea Party darling, and governor of Florida, would be a sure bet to get prominent billing at this year's GOP convention when it opens in Tampa Bay.  

Turns out, he won't.  Team Romney is snubbing him.  Big time.  Not because they want to.  They have to.  Romney would sooner tie an albatross around his neck.

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Given the rabid activism of their base, you have to wonder why they aren't embracing their base -- at least until they get through the election.   Apparently, they have done the calculation and realized the Tea Party crowd in general, and Rick Scott in particular, are  poison in a general election.  That puts Romney in a terrible bind.  Do you embrace the crazy base and lose the general, or do you ignore the base and lose the general?   I guess it is true what they say, "Make enough bad choices and you will soon find yourself left with no good choices."

The means Florida is much more in play than it should be this election cycle.  Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, is quoted in a recent Bloomberg article as saying:

"Obama'€™s more competitive in Florida right now than I would have expected."€
Michael Bender, the author of that article, notes some of the compelling reasons why this is the case:
Florida Governor Rick Scott keeps alienating the people he'€™s trying to befriend.

The Republican'€™s effort to win support from Cuban-Americans resulted in threats of a lawsuit. At a lunch to charm black lawmakers, he offended them. He turned a goodwill mission into comedy-show fodder when he greeted Spain's king by asking about the monarch’s politically sensitive elephant hunt.

The article goes on to note:
Florida is one of the most competitive electoral battlegrounds, with the past three presidential races decided by 5 percentage points or less. Romney hasn'€™t campaigned with Scott.
This isn't simply a personality clash.  The guy is just crushing the GOP brand and they know it.  That's probably why the state Republican party has tried to improve his ratings with nine weeks of television ads. The state party also has paid for recorded calls to voters, websites and Facebook ads promoting Scott since he's been in office.   That's money they could have spent on campaigns to support people running for Congress, or even Mitt Romney.  

With the GOP convention coming to town soon, the state party apparatus should be focused on doing everything they can to make it as successful as possible.   Instead of doing that, the state GOP is stuck trying to improve the governor's image.  The net result?  A GOP forced to spend money to build support for a guy who can't even deliver votes for the main ticket.  

Now you see why the national GOP is not rushing to put Scott out front and center at the convention, even though he is the state's governor and made a point of telling the press he was looking forward to giving a keynote speech at the convention.   Every time he opens his mouth, he costs them money and votes.  There is no sign this is going to change, either.

Romney's staff has concluded there's no benefit in appearing with Scott, said two campaign advisers who asked for anonymity because they weren'€™t authorized to discuss the matter.

"The safe thing is for he and Romney to go their separate ways,"€ said Slade, the former Republican official.

The irony is Scott probably has more in common with Romney than most any other governor in the country right now.   He moved to Florida about a decade ago while he was running his own private-equity firm, HCA Holdings Inc.  But even those credentials aren't enough to endear him with fellow Republicans.
The governor’s priorities appear out of sync with voters, said state Senator Paula Dockery, a Lakeland Republican. She cited a measure the governor persuaded the Legislature to approve that forced state workers to contribute to their pensions, his veto of money for rape-crisis centers and support for spending $5 million on a Sarasota rowing facility.

"€œHe doesn't seem to understand what the average Floridian is going through,"€ Dockery said.

That is pretty damning coming from a Republican.  However, it should make him a man after Romney's own heart.  Except for the fact Scott is every bit as reliable on issues as Romney is.  That must be a hell of a fix for Romney to be in -- how can he rely on a guy that's as reliable as he is?  Tom Slade, the former co-chairman of Scott'€™s campaign and former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida doesn't have any questions about this.  When asked about Scott, Slade said "I'€™d give him a B for governing. I'd give him an A for strangeness."

While there is no doubt Tea Party astroturf organizations can rack up wins at the local level, it is becoming increasingly obvious they can't pull it off at the national level.  I think this is why they have been successful at packing the House (much to Boehner's dismay and continuing embarrassment), but have failed to make any significant headway in senate or presidential races.   At a state level, they certainly wind up alienating a lot of voters who might otherwise vote GOP.  There is no doubt Romney's crew has figured this out and would rather forgo any modest help they might get from this alliance with the whackos.  Unfortunately for them, that means the Tea Party monster is going to go Frankenstein on their creators and wind up killing them.  

When it comes to counting electoral votes, I have been taking the conservative view and only counting votes for Obama if Nate Silver has that state at > 60% for Obama.  By that reckoning, I am not counting VA or FL in Obama's final tally -- which still gives a comfortable margin of 290 EV for Obama.   While VA is still up in the air with a 58% probability for Obama, the current problems to the GOP brand caused by Scott may throw FL to Obama, in spite of Scott's efforts to disenfranchise as many likely Democratic voters as possible.  If that happens, the odds of Obama breaking 300 are very high.    

The more Romney runs from Scott, the more you have to tie them together.  It will be like tossing a drowning man an anvil.  To do that, one strategy worth pursuing is to tie these two smash-and-grab artists together by showing they are cut from the same cloth.  Here's a nicely worded double entendre that would be a great billboard.  

Vote for Romney.  
He will do to the country
what Rick Scott has done
to the people of Florida!
Also available as an eCard.  Feel free to share :)
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