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Haley Barbour Wades into Scott-McCollum Battle

August 17, 2010 - 6:00pm

A former RNC chairman and possible presidential candidate in 2012 is being dragged into the latest round in the tight and hotly contested Republican gubernatorial primary contest between Rick Scott and Attorney General Bill McCollum.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, chairing the Republican Governors Association (RGA), waded into the fray Tuesday night, rapping Scott on the knuckles for running an ad linking McCollum to disgraced former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer.

The ad, launched Tuesday morning by the Scott campaign, brought a sharp response from Barbour.

The RGA is not involved in the Florida GOP primary now nor do we plan to be, said Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a possible presidential candidate in 2012. However, specifically related to the latest ad Rick Scott is running against Bill McCollum, we want to set the record straight.

The truth is that Bill McCollums leadership is part of what led to the removal of Jim Greer, the Mississippi governor said. This ad distorts the facts and was clearly created without any knowledge of what actually took place. It has no place in this primary.

We ask Mr. Scott to pull this ad and move forward in the primary in a constructive manner, concluded Barbour.

The Scott campaign promptly fired back Tuesday night.

It continues to appear Bill McCollum's best precinct next Tuesday will be in Washington, D.C., where he spent his long congressional career, said Jennifer Baker, a spokeswoman for Scott.

With all due respect to Chairman Barbour, Bill McCollum's statements and actions in the Jim Greer scandal speak for themselves and have been widely documented in the media, Baker said. For years, Jim Greer ran the state party into the ground and Bill McCollum enabled him every step of the way.Even as Greer's tenure wound down, McCollum defended Greer's decision to operate in secret. McCollum dragged his feet in initiating any investigation of Greer and McCollum still thinks today that we need secret government so career politicians can do deals.

Baker contrasted McCollums record to that of her candidate.

Rick Scott is going to continue to tell the truth about the cover-up of Jim Greers actions and he doesnt care if that makes every insider in the state and Washington, D.C. mad at him, said Baker. Floridians are fed up with the backroom deals and politics-as-usual and they deserve a Republican candidate for governor who will clean up the mess.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859

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