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Politics

2012-Minded Mitt Romney Campaigns With Scott, Rubio

September 30, 2010 - 6:00pm

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, feeling frisky in Florida's dynamic political landscape, campaigned with Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott and U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio Friday.

In the meantime, the buzz continued to grow that Romney is planning a second try at the Republican presidential nomination.

Scott, buoyed by two polls that showed him ahead of Democratic rival Alex Sink, campaigned in The Villages in Central Florida with Romney in tow. A poll released by Quinnipiac University Friday had Scott with 49 percent and Sink 43 percent. The Quinnipiac poll of 1,151 likely voters had a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent. Later on Friday, Rasmussen Reports released a survey of 750 likely voters that also showed Scott ahead. The former health-care executive pulled 46 percent in the Rasmussen poll while Sink carried 41 percent. The poll, taken Sept. 30, and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

This is yet another poll showing Rick Scott with a lead outside the margin of error, said Travis Burk, a spokesman for Scott. Voters are rejecting Obama liberal Alex Sinks agenda of higher taxes, more government spending, and more burdensome regulation in favor of Ricks honest plan to turn Floridas economy around and get Floridians back to work.

Romney also appeared on behalf of other Florida Republicans Friday. He showed up in Land OLakes where he shared the stage with Rubio, U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam who is running to be commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, Hernando County Sheriff Rich Nugent who is running for the seat currently held by retiring U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, and Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

The former Massachusetts governorran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 but ultimately lost to U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Romney pulled 31 percent of the vote in the 2008 primary in Florida and carried 18 counties.

Romney has been active in Florida -- attending the re-election kickoff for Sen. John Thrasher of Jacksonville, the Republican Party of Florida chairman.

He also has endorsed Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio, Senate President Jeff Atwaters bid to become state CFO and Putnams campaign to be the states next commissioner of agriculture and consumer services. Romney has also backed most of the Republicans in Florida running for Congress in November.

Besides his appearance in Florida, there have been other signs this week that Romney is eyeing a second bid at the presidency. Free and Strong America, a leadership PAC associated with the former governor, released a large number of endorsements of, and financial contributions to, Republican candidates in key states including Maryland, Georgia and Tennessee. Hours before Romney campaigned with Scott on Friday, Free and Strong America announced it was backing 38 Republican candidates in Iowa -- the site of the first caucus in the 2012 presidential campaign and a state where former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas defeated Romney in 2008.

As a poll from Gallup that was released on Thursday shows, Romney starts out in 2012 as one of the front-runners. Romney topped the poll with 19 percent. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, best known for being McCains running-mate in 2008, placed second with 16 percent. Huckabee, who moved to Florida earlier in the year, came in third with 12 percent. Two other candidates took more than 5 percent -- former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 9 percent and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas in fifth with 7 percent.

A dark horse candidate for the Republican nomination also weighed in this week to back Scott: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Pawlentys Freedom First PAClavished praise on Scott.

Rick Scott is the best candidate to represent Floridians as their governor, wrote the Freedom First team in its endorsement. Known as an innovater in business, health care and politics, Rick is one of America's foremost entrepreneurs. Rick is the founder of two health care providers, Columbia Hospital Corp. and Solantic Corp. which builds and operates urgent-care facilities throughout Florida. Rick also started Conservatives for Patients' Rights, an organization founded to defend free-market principles in health care that focused successfully on defeating President Obama's government-run public option plan.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

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