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Is Gov. Rick Scott being asked to stay away from Mitt Romney?

5:21 PM, Nov 2, 2012   |    comments
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South Tampa, Florida -- With Florida still up for grabs, Mitt Romney has been all over the place in our state.

But curiously missing on the campaign trail with Romney has been our own Governor Rick Scott, a fellow Republican. 

Political watchers say it's no accident.
 
Not counting fundraisers, in the past nine months, Governor Rick Scott and Mitt Romney have only stood shoulder one time on the campaign trail.

A quick sampling of early voters waiting in line today in South Tampa may explain why.

"I'm sure he has his own agenda," said Ben Raposa.

"I think the Romney people don't want him around," said Tim Mikels, "He's an embarrassment."

And Rebecca Jacobson, who was glad to see Sen. Marco Rubio campaigning with Romney, was more blunt about Governor Scott.

"Personally, I don't think he's an asset. So I wouldn't be excited to have him campaigning with me if I were campaigning for president," said Jacobson.

Political experts say that's precisely why for the past few months --and even as recently as this week -- Governor Rick Scott has been nowhere near Mitt Romney during his Florida campaign stops.

On Wednesday, Senator Marco Rubio, Senate candidate Connie Mack, and former Governor Jeb Bush all shared the stage with Romney in Tampa. But there was no sign of Governor Scott.

"You know the Romney campaign would not invite him to any sort of campaign rally where it's public and where the media covers it," says USF Political Science Professor Seth McKee. "You don't want to be seen with him."

McKee says Scott's low approval numbers are a big part of it. In fact, an advertisement recently taken out by Democrats even tries to create the association between Scott and Romney that has been missing on the campaign trail by showing images of the two side by side and urging voters to "connect the dots."

"You don't want to be seen with someone who's got an approval rating that's lower than his disapproval," said McKee.

There were clearly uncomfortable moments for Governor Scott on Thursday when asked point blank about Wednesday's apparent political snubbing.

"Did you decline an invitation or not receive one?" Scott was asked.

"Well, you know... I, uh, I've done a lot to help Governor Romney make sure he wins this state," the Governor answered.

His press handler even tried to intervene.

"Last question!" she yelled.

Scott then tried again to avoid a direct answer.

"I've been invited to go to a variety of events. The events I'm going to be doing today I'm going to be going to a lot of Victory Offices and I'll be with Governor Romney on Monday," he said turning away.

Scott says at those events, he will  be shoulder to shoulder, campaigning with Governor Romney.

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