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Backroom Briefing: Scott Still Sticking to the Script

January 28, 2015 - 6:00pm

During the election campaign, news outlets across Florida (and even some national media organizations) noted that Gov. Rick Scott has a habit of not answering questions that he doesn't want to answer -- often by repeating his talking points ad infinitum.

But in case they forgot, or thought the election might change things, Scott provided a master's class in the practice on Wednesday. That's when the media assembled to hear the governor release his proposed budget and take questions. Some of Scott's bobbing and weaving was of the garden variety, such as when he was asked about the Department of Economic Opportunity finding that four sports-stadium projects were all eligible for taxpayer subsidies.

"But have you had any conversation about that and do you think everybody should get a subsidy who's applied for it?" a reporter asked.

"Well, it all has to go through the Legislature, so they'll make that decision," Scott replied.

"But I mean, you personally. Do you support everybody who's applied for a subsidy for a stadium to get one?" the reporter pressed.

"I'll continue to wait for the Legislature," Scott said.

But the more telling exchange might have come when Adam Smith, political editor for the Tampa Bay Times, asked Scott about a decision by Senate leaders and Scott to pull some money out of the Republican Party of Florida shortly before then-Chairwoman Leslie Dougher lost her race for re-election to state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia. Scott and legislative leaders had supported Dougher's bid to continue leading the party.

Smith also wondered whether Scott trusted Ingoglia.

Scott: "I think you'd have to go ask everybody why they're doing what they're doing."

Smith: "Why are you doing what you're doing?"

Scott: "Well, I'm going to continue to focus on what I ran on. I ran to be the governor of Florida. I ran to get our state back to work. You've watched what I've done the last four years, I've worked to try to make sure families like mine growing up, that struggled for work, can get a job."

Smith: "Why did you shift money from the party to Let's Get to Work?" (Let's Get to Work is a political committee tied to Scott's re-election campaign.)

Scott: "Because I want to continue to focus on my message. And we're going to continue to make sure this is the state that your family can get a job, your kids can get a great education and you can live in a safe community."

Smith: "Does that suggest you don't trust the new chairman?"

Scott: "Adam, I can just tell you what I'm doing. I'm going to work on our message."


There's been plenty of speculation about the future ambitions of two of the Republican Cabinet members. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is considered a lock to run for governor in 2018, and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is often pegged as a candidate for either governor or U.S. senator in 2016 or 2018.

What about Attorney General Pam Bondi? When a media member slipped up and called her "governor" as he started a question, she seemed to puncture any trial balloons.

"No," Bondi said. "You never will be saying that."

She also said "no" to a joking follow-up about running for Senate. Whether Bondi's future includes another bid for office after she's done as attorney general is impossible to tell, but she seems to have crossed at least two posts off the list.

TWEET OF THE WEEK: "I'm on here, what do I do? # #" -- Rep. John Wood, R-Winter Haven (@RepLiberty), famous for calling for "liberty" on the floor of the House, joins Twitter.

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