ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (AP) — Gov. Rick Scott played his most visible role to date in helping Republican Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, and he had an answer Monday for Democrats who say his message about Florida's improving economy conflicts with Romney's message that the economy is still suffering because of President Barack Obama's policies.
While Scott has raised money for Romney and told Republican groups to support his campaign, his introduction of Romney in front of a large rally was his largest public event for the candidate. Democrats have tried to create the perception that Romney doesn't want to appear with Scott because of the governor's low approval rating.
"Even though we have a president that is making it much, much more difficult to do well, in Florida our economy is getting better," Scott said, adding that the state's unemployment has dropped faster than all but one other state. "Just think what the state could do then if we had the right president."
A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Scott's approval rating at 36 percent and Democrats have been calling him "toxic" to Romney. Other than thanking Scott for the introduction, Romney didn't mention him in his remarks.
Scott spoke for about five minutes and appeared more energetic than he usually does, raising his voice almost to a shout as he rallied the crowd ahead of Romney.
"We cannot afford another four years of Barack Obama. His policies have failed us," Scott said. "He actually believes his policies are working. What do you think?"
After the crowd shouted, "No!" Scott added, "He doesn't get it."
The Florida Democratic Party argued that Scott's policies and Romney's economic proposals would do more harm than good.
"Independent economists agree that if we cut taxes for millionaires like Rick Scott and Mitt Romney, we will either balloon the deficit or cripple working families and small businesses across the Sunshine State with higher tax rates. Floridians overwhelmingly disapprove of Rick Scott, and will reject Mitt Romney in November," said state party Chairman Rod Smith.
Scott pointed out that Obama won Florida by about 236,000 votes in 2008. He then noted that Republicans have closed the gap in voter registration with Democrats by about 200,000 voters since then.
"You have already changed the dynamic," Scott said. "It puts us in a position to win."
Follow Brendan Farrington on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bsfarrington