SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) _ In parks and in churches, at barbecues and at outdoor cafes, Rick Scott and Alex Sink campaigned on opposite coasts Sunday in an effort to win over undecided voters before Tuesday's gubernatorial election.
Scott, the 57-year-old Republican, began his day at a Baptist church in Largo, then walked around St. Petersburg's waterfront downtown, shaking hands, eating ice cream and posing for photos with pink-clad participants of a breast cancer walk.
Sink, the Democrat, courted the African-American vote in Jacksonville. Sink, the state's chief financial officer, attended services at four black churches with local Congresswoman Corrine Brown, then planned to attend an afternoon rally at a shopping center.
Sunday marked the sixth day that both candidates crisscrossed the state.
Scott, who has spent some $73 million of his own money on his campaign, rode in a luxury bus emblazoned with his slogan: "Let's Get to Work.''
The Naples businessman often campaigned from early morning until night, usually in heavily Republican areas. On Saturday, he flew to four cities and ended the day with two enthusiastic rallies: one in the Cuban enclave of Hialeah, South Florida, and another in suburban Tampa.
On Sunday, he motored down Florida's west coast. Folks there supported him heavily in the primary and turned out by the hundreds to see him in community centers and restaurants. During a GOP rally at an airplane hangar in Sarasota, Scott spoke briefly to some 1,000 people, reiterating pledges to create jobs, cut regulations on businesses and lower taxes. He briefly met up with U.S Senate candidate Marco Rubio and the two men embraced.
"We can't stop,'' said Scott. "There's not many hours left.''
George Lucas, 57, of Bradenton, said he has already voted for Scott.
"He's going to create more jobs than his opponent,'' Lucas said. "I like his integrity. He doesn't hide. He doesn't make people try to think he's something that he's not. He's a good, honest businessman.''
Indeed, few voters appeared troubled by Scott's past leadership of Columbia/HCA, a hospital conglomerate that paid a record $1.7 billion fine to settle federal charges of Medicaid and Medicare fraud. Scott, the company CEO at the time, says he wasn't aware of any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, Sink, a 62-year-old former bank president, has tried to focus on the black vote in recent days while addressing large crowds. On Saturday, she addressed 1,000 delegates at the Florida Education Association convention in Orlando, greeted fans at Florida A&M's homecoming football game in Tallahassee and ended the day at the $100-a-plate NAACP Freedom Fund annual dinner in Miami.
Sink has spent considerably less than Scott, with $11.2 million raised.
Asked Saturday how she feels about the latest financial reports showing Scott's spending so far, Sink remained upbeat.
"All I can say is he's spent an enormous amount of his own money to get to the governor's office and I believe my grass roots is going to beat his money,'' she said.
On Sunday, Sink showed up a barbecue and rally at Brown's headquarters in a predominantly black section of Jacksonville's north side. Around 150 people milled around and sat at tables eating while a TV was tuned to a Jacksonville Jaguars game.
Sink was introduced by Brown and Sen. Bill Nelson. Before she spoke she jumped into a line dance some women were doing to the Akon song “Dangerous.''
Paulette Mitchell, a social worker who lives in Jacksonville, said she hoped voters would elect Florida's first female governor. "I've researched her background, and I like the knowledge she has as CEO will make her a good governor,'' Mitchell said.
Sink urged voters to get to the polls, saying “it's a neck-and-neck race.''
Still, both candidates had to fight the perception of some voters that the contest has been marred by negative attacks.
Donna Briody of St. Petersburg was eating brunch at an outdoor cafe when Scott walked by.
"I don't want to shake his hand …,'' said Briody, 60. "I'm pretty unhappy with everyone right now, all the candidates in general. They're too busy spending their time and money on condemning each other.''