Pinellas County . . . On November 4, Florida Attorney General, Charlie Crist spoke during the Belleair Women Republican's Club (BWRC) meeting held at the Wine Cellar in North Redington Beach. Crist cheerfully greeted friends, introduced himself to guests and posed for pictures. "This is home," he said.
He asked those in attendance to notice that he was using no notes and speaking from his heart. In his impromptu speech, he discussed political and social topics of extreme importance to women; schools, security, the government's role in both, and easy clean up of campaign materials.
Warm laughter from the ladies and gentlemen in attendance erupted when he mentioned his mother's suggestion that he hand out higher quality bumper stickers. Thanks to her, win or lose, Crist's backers will not have a hard time removing them when the campaign is over.
"She said to make sure they're the thick vinyl type that peel right off the car's bumper. If they don't, call me and I'll come over and pick them off myself," Crist offered.
Crist thanked the BWRC for all they do and discussed how the Republican party has progressed. He said, "Florida is special and she deserves the best. I care deeply about this state."
The BWRC have invited Florida State Chief Financial Officer, and former State Treasurer, candidate Tom Gallagher, to speak at an upcoming meeting in March. The 2006 Florida gubernatorial election will take place on November 7, 2006.
During his talk, Crist praised term-limited Governor Bush. "We have the greatest Governor in him. And the greatest legacy he leaves for the next governor is education."
Crist is a native of St. Petersburg and graduated from St Petersburg High. "I'm a proud product of the Florida school system and my father served on the county school board." Prior to having been elected Attorney General, Crist's career in public service included serving as State Senator and as Florida's Education Commissioner.
Advocating student and school testing, Crist said, "FCATs are important. Life's a test. We're not going to let the kids down. So we'll grade the schools. Those that don't get a good grade feel badly when they rate poorly but if we're willing to grade 5 and 6 year olds, shouldn't we grade the schools and have them show accountability? If I have the honor of serving as Florida's next governor, I will do everything I can to improve education, including raises for teachers."
Security is an obligation Crist feels strongly about. He reminded that the writers of the constitution included language providing insurance of domestic tranquility and keeping citizens safe. "We have an obligation to preserve, protect, and defend. Safety & security is important. We have a good team in office right now. We've got to keep it up."
Crist said he feels the momentum can be kept up with the state's economy, too, if handled properly. "This economy will continue to do well, if we elect the right governor. I used to work for Senator Connie Mack. He was a great role model for me." Crist has adopted Mack's and other republican's mantra of: less tax, less spending, less government, more freedom.
There was time for one question after his speech. It had to do with property insurance. A woman said her condo in Indian Rocks Beach has been covered by Nationwide but that the company said they would not renew the policy as of March 2006. She said other companies want double and triple the amount of what they are used to paying.
She asked, "Do you have any advice for those of us in this situation?"
Crist joked that he is not the insurance commissioner, but asked if anyone in the group had Citizen Insurance, stating a lot of coastal people do, including his parents, who are in a similar situation with that company.
"If I win, I have some ideas of how we might be able to help. After all, you make your payments religiously month after month, but when it's time for them to pay you, it's a different story. If you can prove your claim, then they ought to pay, and pay quickly. But what some insurance companies do is cherry pick who they want. They make a lot of money in Florida, but when things get rough, they get out. They have to be here for the good and the bad. If elected, I will try to do things to make insurance practices more fair and ethical."
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