Until Charlie Crist and gay marriage changed the narrative late last week, Gov. Rick Scott was getting a buzz saw of negative publicity about the way he handles questions from the press.
As in Scott never directly answers them.
Scott's non-answers over his use of on-duty police at a campaign event was seized on first by television stations in the critical Tampa Bay media market and was mocked nationally by Anderson Cooper on CNN.
By week's end Scott was also getting hit by stations in voter-rich South Florida.
Any chance this will prompt Scott to change his strategy with the press and media?
In a word: No.
Let's set aside the fact that many politicians, including former Gov. Crist, avoid answering questions directly (with the possible exception of former Gov. Jeb Bush as correctly noted by Aaron Deslatte with the Orlando Sentinel.)
Instead let's remember how we got here.
Back in 2010 when Scott the "outsider" and a tea party favorite was on the trail the main campaign fear was a non-stop barrage of questions about Scott's record with Columbia/HCA. So he avoided editorial boards, was careful about his interactions with the press, and talked about jobs, jobs, jobs.
When he took office, that didn't change initially.
The Scott team tried to stay on message and to carry out an ambitious agenda of cutting taxes, spending and regulations. That created a lot of conflict with the press because the Scott folks didn't want to answer questions about issues that didn't have to do with Scott's theme of the day. (Which works during a campaign, but not when you are governor because lots of things happen in a big state that are out of your control.)
Then after Scott changed his first chief of staff he tried to communicate in a much less restrained fashion.
The problem was that as a person who did not have a lot of political street smarts prior to getting elected Scott and his team quickly realized that a handful of misstatements, gaffes, whatever would start to burn out of control (Anthropology majors, disappearing dogs, interactions with the King of Spain etc. etc.)
So with a third chief of staff and a new communications director Scott began sticking to the script again (for the most part). Scott only answers questions when it benefits his tactics and strategy.
Flash forward now to a tense, tight re-election campaign.
Reporters (and voters) may think it's important that Scott give a direct answer on same sex marriage and the court battles, or whether he is for or against the minimum wage.
That's not how Scott World sees it at all.
Instead there are people involved in the campaign who see these questions as a potential distraction that don't follow their script and narrative.
In other words, a question about the minimum wage is apparently viewed as a "gotcha question."
If Scott articulates reasons why he's opposed to it, then Democratic rival Crist, who is for it, will use the response to go after Scott on it. This takes attention away from the narrative that Scott has done things to improve the economy and has grown jobs.
Likewise a question about same-sex marriage (which is important to some folks in the GOP base) could equally cause the campaign to go off-message.
And the more that the media harps on Scott's decision to sidestep these questions then this may lead into accusations that the media is biased against the incumbent governor.
This theme has already started to trickle out a little.
Last Friday after The Miami Herald posted a story about Crist, Scott and climate change the governor's re-election campaign blasted out a statement saying that the Herald "decided not to include the entire statement." The "entire statement" included Scott taking shots at Crist over items such as Everglades restoration and springs restoration.
Most people who work with the press know full well that an entire lengthy statement is not likely to make a story, but the Scott campaign took the Herald to task nonetheless.
The question is whether or not this will be a prelude to a bigger pushback from the Scott campaign (or some of its alllies) contending that the media isn't doing a good enough job at going after Crist for his lack of policy papers, or exploring the Jim Greer and Scott Rothstein sagas. (Of course it's worth noting that whenever the Republican Party or Scott campaign wants to blast Crist for being a "lousy governor" they cite a long line of articles and editorials written when he was in office.)
Reporters won't stop asking questions about important issues affecting the state. And with three-and-a-half months to go until Election Day it's unlikely Gov. Scott will stop reciting the talking points from his script.