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To them, Bush wasn't all bad

The two Democratic candidates for governor offer praise for some of Jeb Bush's work.

By ADAM C. SMITH
Published March 12, 2006


You will hear a lot from the Democrats running for governor about what Jeb Bush and Florida Republicans have done wrong over the past seven years. Do they think Bush did anything right?

Turns out yes.

"I thought Jeb Bush's hurricane responses under the circumstances were good," state Sen. Rod Smith said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9. "I didn't agree with much of what he proposed (for restricting medical malpractice lawsuits), but in working with him I think he seriously wanted to see if we could stabilize medical risk in this state. I think he's wrong on Medicaid reform in trying to implement it too fast, but he was right in saying we can't have this (growing cost) go unchecked."

Smith's rival for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, also praised Bush's hurricane responses when asked about Bush's strong suits in a recent Political Connections appearance. But he noted that Bush "inherited from Gov. Lawton Chiles a very good emergency operations center."

Davis said Florida has done more on homeland security than most states and he acknowledged "modest gains in reading for third- and fourth-graders."

Davis tends to stay on message more consistently than Smith. Unlike Smith, he made sure to stress Bush's agenda favoring "the politically powerful and connected." Smith, in contrast, waxed on about how comfortable Hispanic Floridians are with the governor.

"Jeb Bush will have his legacy but it will be determined later like it will be for all of us," said Smith, who suggested that as a legislator and prosecutor, he has been a more accomplished leader than Davis.

Smith also defended his longtime support for Jim Crosby, pushed out as Florida corrections secretary amid state and federal investigations of the state prison system.

"I've known his mother. I've known his children. I've known him since he was an intake officer," Smith said of Crosby. "I think there was a great sense of "one of us' among officers and staff when he became successful, but if he's done something wrong he's got to pay the consequences. ... if something's wrong there, I believe it will be the old saying they once said about President (Warren) Harding: "He could control his enemies, I'm just not sure he could control his friends."'

The interview with Smith airs at 11 a.m. on Bay News 9. Starting Monday it can be seen on Channel 340 (Tampa Bay on Demand).

Adam C. Smith can be reached at 727 893-8241 or adam@sptimes.com

[Last modified March 12, 2006, 01:17:10]


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