The Ticket

Florida’s GOP governor touts recovery; Tampa convention to disagree

Holly Bailey, Yahoo News
The Ticket

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Romney and Scott at a rally in October 2010 (Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Rick Scott, the Republican governor of Florida, likes to tell voters that his state has experienced a major economic turnaround since he took office 19 months ago.

In a press release last week, Scott's office pointed to numbers indicating that Florida's unemployment rate had the "fastest in the nation" decrease since early 2011. On the stump, the first-term governor—whose approval rating is only 41 percent, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll—regularly touts rising median home prices and positive job growth numbers in the state.

"Throughout our state, we see signs our economy is moving in the right direction," Scott said during a jobs event in July.

Mitt Romney tells a different story. When the presumptive Republican nominee talks, he describes a Florida with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, its sunny skies darkened by record-high foreclosure rates and rising poverty rates.

Job numbers, Romney frequently says in his stump speech, aren't improving in Florida and other states because people are finding employment. "It's because people have simply stopped looking for work," he says.

The clashing messages between Romney and Scott made people wonder what the Florida governor would say during his speech at the Republican National Convention this week. But on Saturday, Scott canceled his appearance at the RNC to focus on preparations for Tropical Storm Isaac.

More important is how Romney will handle the narrative of economic improvement as he tours battleground states like Michigan, Ohio and Virginia, where the state's Republican governors have all touted improving jobs numbers in recent months.

While he continues to rail against Obama's "failed" presidency, Romney has tweaked his message to include a line acknowledging that the economic environment has improved—and could continue to do so before November. But he argues that it is "in spite" of the president's policies that jobs numbers have been on the upswing, and he insists the nation should be in a better place.

"He doesn't understand how the policies he put in place made it harder for this economy to recover," Romney told voters in Iowa in June. "And so today, I hope things are getting better. I think they are, the economy. I sure hope so. But it's no thanks to him. It's in spite of him."

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