Pam Bondi defends her fight against the feds at an Ybor City rally

click to enlarge Pam Bondi & Jeb Bush at rally at Columbia Restaurant in Ybor Monday afternoon. - Kimberly DeFalco
Kimberly DeFalco
Pam Bondi & Jeb Bush at rally at Columbia Restaurant in Ybor Monday afternoon.

Two Florida GOP rock stars, Pam Bondi and Jeb Bush, made their way to Tampa's Ybor City Monday afternoon in a last bit of campaigning before Tuesday's general election.

Appearing at the Columbia Restaurant, a bevy of Hillsborough County Republicans, most but not all on the ballot (including state Senators Jeff Brandes and Tom Lee, as well as former Governor Bob Martinez), stood behind Bondi and Bush as the the pair made their case for the GOP brand — not just in Florida, but in Bush's case across the nation as well, as the former governor urged Floridians to contact their friends in battleground states to vote Republican and throw Harry Reid out of his Senate Majority position.

Bondi kicked it off by first making the case for Rick Scott, then segued into highlighting her work as AG in eliminating pill mills and combating human sex trafficking. 

Regarding the prescription drug abuse problem that plagued Florida several years ago, Bondi said the state's work on the issue has attracted national attention, and even garnered a rare compliment from the White House's drug czar (Gil Kerlikowske), who told her that Florida is being viewed across the nation as a leader on the war on prescription drugs. 

In the last part of her seven-minute speech, Bondi switched over to bashing the federal government, saying that watching Mitt Romney lose to Barack Obama in 2012 was "more than most of us could stand." A leading critic of the Affordable Care Act, Bondi said the only thing she would say about ObamaCare was that she no longer had to address her letters to Kathleen Sebelius, the former Health & Human Services Secretary who was the administration's point person on all things having to do with health care reform.

But Bondi grew defiant in defending her high-profile interventions with other states against the federal government, cases which often have had little to do with Florida, something noted in a recent story in the Tampa Bay Times.

"I firmly believe in our 10th Amendment rights," she vowed. "I will not back down. No one will bully me from taking on the FDA. I will continue to fight the EPA when they try to hold Florida to higher water standards than any state in the country, and I will join with other states to fight against the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) when they tell a company like Boeing, who's in a union state, that they simply can't expand to a right-to-work state."

That several year-old case involved Boeing wanting to leave Washington state for South Carolina — an issue that has nothing to do with the Sunshine State.

On a roll, the attorney general then abruptly announced, "This 'war on women'? I am so sick and tired of it," before calling out Republican women like Dana Young and Sandy Murman who stood behind her, as well as national Republicans like New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez and New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte.

Former Governor Bush followed Bondi, where he disparaged Charlie Crist, saying, "We have a candidate running for governor who’s a great yapper. A great talker. My mother probably wouldn’t want me to say this, but his name is Charlie Crist. All he does is talk. He doesn’t act. He doesn’t lead. He doesn’t believe in anything other than his own ambition."

Bush then laid out some of Rick Scott's accomplishments as governor. "He has done each and every day what he said he was going to do," then added, "Normally that means a guy gets re-elected."

If it was just about job creation, Rick Scott would be a shoo-in, as the economic numbers are starkly better under his watch than when Charlie Crist was governor. But the national and worldwide economy played a huge role in that, and Scott has had to work himself out of being in the mid to upper 30's in popular approval ratings to get where he is right now — in a dead heat, according to virtually every poll taken on the gubernatorial race.

Bush then went admittedly "off the beaten path" to advocate for a Republican U.S. Senate. Perhaps it's because he's been making the argument while criss-crossing the nation campaigning for Republicans, or that he's serious about a potential White House run in 2016, but the former governor grew animated in talking about how dysfunctional Washington is, and how a GOP Senate with a GOP House could show Americans that the Republicans are ready to govern again responsibly.

"The Republicans aren’t the party of no. Harry Reid is just following the orders of Barack Obama who would prefer to use executive authority that he or may not have," Bush said. "Instead of doing what should be done in a democracy which is building consensus, forging consensus, trying to find common ground with people that don’t always agree, we’ve lost that ability because of President Obama’s complete disinterest in doing so, and his lapdog Harry Reid has made it harder and harder."

No mention was made of the Republicans' considerable role in blocking consensus.

Although tomorrow is Election Day, the campaigning continues, with Texas Governor Rick Perry joining his good friend Rick Scott at a lunchtime appearance in West Tampa at noon.

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