“It’s not a campaign event,” Mike Dorwart, director of branding & programming at News 104.5 WOKV, told the Spinnaker on Oct. 29.
On Oct. 31, Rick Scott walked on stage at the Lazzara Performance Hall, the walls on each side of him spangled with projected stars. His first question during the ‘Stand Up For America’ event: who in the audience had voted?
“Let’s all remember – Mitt Romney – you remember, he lost?,” Scott asked. “We lost because people didn’t go out and vote.”
Scott brought up the Florida gubernatorial and asked if the audience had heard about the Democrat, Republican and Independent that walked into a bar. His punchline, “The bartender says, ‘Hi, Charlie,’” drew laughter, applause and whistles from the crowd.
The Lazzara was a half-filled sea of white-topped heads, with barely a college-age person in sight. Rich Jones, morning host and news director at WOKV, had introduced Scott and later noted there were a lot of business owners in the audience.
Scott spoke for a total of eleven minutes. After talking about his upbringing in the Midwest for a minute, Scott spent three and a half minutes comparing his achievements as governor with Charlie Crist’s and a further two and half minutes encouraging his audience to vote.
“You’ve gotta vote, you’ve gotta get all your friends to vote. We can’t have anybody that doesn’t vote that believes in what we believe in. We believe in the dream of America. The dream of America is there’s no guaranteed success, but there’s a guarantee of opportunity,” he said.
Scott said, “This is our country. It’s not Barack Obama’s country, not Charlie Crist’s country, not our government’s country. It’s our country,” Scott said. One man in the audience replied, “Amen.”
Scott then introduced current Attorney General Pam Bondi, saying she needed a big win because an Attorney General who attacked businesses wouldn’t help bring jobs to the state. Scott spoke of Bondi’s achievements for a minute and a half, including her concentration on decreasing prescription drug abuse and human trafficking in Florida. Scott then spent his last minute talking about his grandson and wishing the audience a good night.
Bondi said, “You know who just left this stage? The best CEO in our country… And we need to keep him in office… Rick is our CEO. It’s his job to bring businesses to our state and keep them here, and that’s what he has done.”
Bondi said Florida used to be known as the “Oxy Express” because it was so easy to get prescriptions within the state. She said 98 of the top 100 oxycodone dispensers (doctors) lived in Florida when she came to office. She said that number is now zero.
Bondi spoke about synthetic marijuana and said calls about this product to poison control were through the roof.
“I sent two FDLE [Florida Department of Law Enforcement] agents to the Tallahassee Mall. They bought it legally, they took it back, they analyzed it. They came in white as a ghost and said, ‘We’re holding heroin,’” Bondi said.
She said if any store clerk is selling this “junk” under the counter, they pull their liquor and lottery licenses.
Bondi then spoke about human trafficking and the recent effort to have better reporting of abductions that lead to trafficking. She said a new program helping the cause is an online toolkit for truckers to report suspected cases of human trafficking, because women and girls are often taken from truck stops.
“Look at the states with the fastest growing economies – led by Republicans. Look at the states with the fastest job growth – led by Republicans. Look at the states with the most innovation in energy, education, the environment – all led by Republicans,” Bondi said.
Bondi also said she is sick of hearing of the ‘War on Women’. She said everyone needed to vote, and that was how they were going to win this race for Scott and herself.
Sean Hannity and Brian Kilmeade then came to the stage and warmed up by each throwing a football into the audience.
Hannity said the night would be about discussing issues affecting the country. He said the current Ebola czar [Ron Klain] is not qualified, the country is $18 trillion in debt, the borders are insecure, social security money was never put in a lockbox, the new health care system isn’t working, and he said it “drives him nuts” that the US is not supporting Israel.
“Liberals cannot face the facts that their ideology is wrong,” Hannity said.
He said Obama takes no responsibility. After complimenting each other on their shows, both Hannity and Kilmeade spoke about Scott.
Kilmeade said he has heard people say Scott is not a good speaker, but voters should look at a person’s actions and not their speech.
Hannity said, “I give the man [Crist] credit, he gives a good speech. He can’t govern his way out of a wet paper bag.”
He went on to talk about Crist’s change in politics through his career and said, “I have never seen such confusion from any one politician in my entire life. This man is nuts.”
Hannity said the current “disasters” of the Affordable Care Act, the military and foreign policy points to liberalism as a flawed, failing ideology.
Hannity said the top five national priorities are: recognizing ISIS and radical Islamism as a clear threat, securing America’s borders, balancing the budget, jobs and business, and getting rid of the Affordable Care Act.
At one point, Hannity asked if there were any people in the audience who had voted for Obama, and one of the only younger audience members raised his hand.
The young man, who identified himself as Harold, said he voted for Obama once and disagreed with about 60 percent of what he has done so far. Harold said he couldn’t agree with the drone strikes or Obama’s policy in Mexico, and Hannity said the drone strikes were one good thing Obama had done.
“I’m afraid those people will be back for blood,” Harold said. He said it wouldn’t be that surprising that someone would strap a bomb to themselves and kill a square full of people if they had lost their loved ones to collateral damage in drone strikes.
“What’s the alternative, considering they’ve declared war on us? ISIS has said that they will raise the flag of Islam in the White House,” Hannity said. “I want to take them out where they are – each and every last, single radical Islamist that does not value human life.”
Kilmeade said, “Not every Muslim is a terrorist… I can name a lot of people that I’ve had the chance to know who have no interest in blowing up the country.”
In summary of what Hannity wanted from a new conservative party, he said “I don’t want somebody that’s ambitious. I want somebody that believes in public service.
In the Q&A portion, in answer to a tweet asking how the U.S. can fix its relationship with Israel, Hannity said, “Get rid of Obama.”
Hannity said, “The President of the United States of America is hostile to our closest ally in the Middle East at a time when we should never be closer. He doesn’t get it.”
Kilmeade said, “If the Jewish vote does not go to the Republicans after the way George Bush treated Israel as compared to the way President Obama treats Israel, then they really should be ashamed of themselves.”
One person asked what each citizen can do, beyond voting, to turn the US around and save our country.
Kilmeade said, “I think we gotta go into the crisis mode…think about what happened after 9/11, Sean… We have to feel the deficit, we have to [sic] understand our security in jeopardy… I think we take action when it hits home.”
‘Stand Up For America’ was paid for, produced and promoted by News 104.5 WOKV.
Email Lydia Moneir at [email protected]