Rick Scott and wife Ann were in North Tampa this morning, visiting the governor's field office on Ehrlich Road, the second of four visits they were making across the state pump up the vote on this Primary Election day. Florida's First Couple spent over 20 minutes shaking hands with volunteers before sitting down and making a phone call to alert Republicans to get out the vote today.
The Governor was in a feisty mood, talking trash about his likely Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist, but stayed above the fray when asked by CL if he had any reaction to the excerpts released this morning from a new book written by Jennifer Carroll. Carroll was Scott's first Lieutenant Governor and running mate in 2010; she was unceremoniously dumped a year and a half ago after being questioned by FDLE agents — but never charged with wrongdoing — regarding consulting work she had done for Allied Veterans of the World when she served in the Florida House. Allied was being investigated by the feds and the FDLE about their Internet cafe operations at the time.
Carroll's memoir, When You Get There
will be published tomorrow, and excerpts were printed this morning in The Tampa Bay Times
and the Tallahassee Democrat.
Steve Bosquet reports that in the book, Carroll says that while working with black political consultant Clarence McKee during the 2010 campaign, Carroll said she devised a plan to reach out to black voters with local newspapers, radio and phone calls — but without the consent of the Scott campaign.
"I want to thank Jennifer for her service," the Governor said when asked for reaction to Carroll's assertion. "Tomorrow is her birthday, I want to wish her a happy birthday. She did the right thing for her family and herself when she resigned." When asked by the Times'
Adam Smith if he'll read When You Get There
, Scott stayed on message. "I hope she has a very good birthday."
In the past week Scott has become the Education Governor, announcing (if he's reelected and the Legislature approves) a big increase in per-pupil spending in Florida's public schools, as well as calling on his Department of Education to "investigate" all standardized testing and create an independent review committee to look for ways to deregulate the 67 county school boards in their selection of instructional materials.
"We have to have standards," Scott said today."At the same time, we don't need the federal government telling us how to run our state education system. Our curriculum ought to be decided locally."
CL asked the governor what an undecided voter should make of Scott's energetic efforts on education, considering he wanted to cut K-12 spending by over $3 billion and settled for $1.3 billion in 2011?
"It's really clear: I cleaned up Charlie Crist's mess," he replied. "He left me with a $3.6 billion deficit. He increased state debt by more than $8 billion while he was governor. 832,000 people lost their jobs. First year in office, I had to start cleaning up his mess. But where are we today? Record funding for K-12. Record funding for state colleges. Record funding for universities."
Scott also boasted of the pay raises he provided Florida teachers last year, saying that "Charlie Crist never got our teachers a pay raise."
Of course, that was during the Great Recession, when cash flow in the state was considerably tighter, which is also why at least three times during the seven-minute availability he returned to the 832,000 jobs that he said the state lost under former Governor Crist.
"Charlie didn't focus on jobs. Now, he gave a lot of good talks. On education, he cut education funding, and he raised tuition. That wasn't good for Florida families."
Although Scott came out in support of Medicaid expansion in 2013, he never fought for it, much to the consternation of state Democrats and advocates of the Affordable Care Act. But when asked about a recent White House study
that reported that Florida lost over 63,000 jobs because it didn't expand Medicaid, Scott dismissed it, saying one has to consider the source.
"Anything the White House puts out with regard to ObamaCare is wrong. Now we know that Charlie Crist is all
in — he says ObamaCare is 'great.' Charlie, it's not great, that we have people losing their plans. It's not great that people are losing their doctors. It's not great that Medicare Advantage recipients — their premiums are going up, they're losing their doctors and their plans are changing. ObamaCare is not a good bill for the state of Florida."