(CNN) - Campaign politics came to Florida Wednesday with the arrival of Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden was in the sunshine state to campaign for incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, and he took time to criticize Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott for turning down federal money for a high-speed rail project, a move Biden said will hurt business in the state.
“Your governor, God bless him, I don’t know him, but I don’t get it,” Biden said according to the pool report.” “Even if you were doubtful, I don’t understand how in this economy in Florida you could walk away from 24,000 high paying jobs.”
Scott announced in February he would return $2.4 billion in federal funds for the project because he worried Florida taxpayers could be stuck with the cost overruns.
However, Nelson, who is up for reelection in 2012, remained optimistic about the project.
“Let me tell you, high-speed rail is still coming to Florida,” Nelson said.
Biden was the second high-profile surrogate to appear in the state on Nelson’s behalf. At the beginning of March, President Barack Obama teamed up with Nelson at two fundraisers in Miami Beach to help raise money for the senator and for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
“Because of all of you in the room, Bill Nelson won - and quite frankly because of you in this room, Barack and I won,” Biden told the group according to the pool report. “Every election time, opponents (of Nelson) trot out the same tired slogan: ‘He’s liberal.’ You know why it never works? Because this guy, more than almost anybody I’ve ever worked with is about common sense and common ground.”
The two-term senator has $3,083,493 in cash on hand as of the end of the year, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission, but has an uphill climb in the general election according to recent polls.
Obama and Biden won Florida by three percentage points in the 2008 presidential election, but the GOP did very well in Florida in last November’s midterm elections.
At Wednesday’s event Biden reiterated the administration slogan that they’re committed to winning the future, taking a jab at Republicans for wanting to “cut our way out of a recession.”
“It’s never happened before,” Biden said. “These guys remind me of the Know Nothing Party of the 19th century. Then it was about religion, now it’s about the economy.”
The motorcade also stopped at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa for an unscheduled drop-by earlier in the day. Biden, donning a New York Yankees jacket and cap said “This is what I wanted to do with my life.”
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report