Gov. Rick Scott dodged questions on Monday at a campaign event in Largo about a recent campaign stop in Tampa, to which on-duty police officers were invited. Then on Tuesday, when Scott was in Tampa on official business on hurricane preparedness, reporters again asked him questions outside that topic. One of the questions was, "Why do you think you have a reputation for not answering questions?" In the end, both reporters and the governor got a bit testy.
Gov. Scott stpeed in Tampa to urge Floridians to get prepared as the hurricane season ramps up, but reporters asked a swirl of questions on everything but hurricane preparedness.
One Fox 13 reporter asked about an Orlando International Airport expansion that would include space for a private passenger rail terminal. Public money would help with the expansion.
"How do you say then, that it is not getting any public support?" asked the reporter.
"It's not. It's a private company, it's a private venture at the Orlando Airport," Scott said. "This is an expansion because they're growing."
The reporter tried to restate the question, interrupting Scott.
"Excuse me just a second, I'll finish. If you remember, the state's growing," Scott said, "We're going to have possibly 100 million tourists this year. So Florida is growing, that airport is expanding. My understanding is that they're going to connect with the airport but this is a 100-percent private venture."
The relentless reporter tried again. "Even though more than $200 million is going to the terminal for All Aboard Florida?"
"It's going to expand the terminal because tourism is growing. It's great what's happening. We're going to have, looks like 60-million-tourists-plus this year in the Orlando area, 100 million statewide, so look at our state, it's growing, people are moving here. It's exciting," said Scott.
Another reporter changed the subject and asked if the governor is doing anything differently to make sure that there is no repeat of what happened last week, when on-duty officers were invited to what turned out to be a Tampa campaign event.
Scott's answer threw a few jabs at potential challenger Charlie Crist.
"We are always making sure that we comply with the law and comply with the rules," Scott said. "Here's what's nice: The Police Chiefs Association. I'm real[ly] proud that they endorse me, 40 sheriffs endorse me. People want to come to our campaign events, we let people know. But look this is all Charlie Crist's mudslinging. He doesn't have anything to run on. He can't talk about jobs- he lost jobs, 132,000 jobs. He can't talk about education- he cut education funding. So we're doing the right thing and I'm proud that people want to come to our campaign events."
On the Charlie Crist subject, the Fox 13 reporter asked about the minimum wage and interrupted the governor again. This time, Scott addressed the interruption.
"Charlie Crist is running on a higher minimum wage. Do you support a higher minimum wage, yes or no?" the reporter asked.
"I support more jobs," said Scott, "I support higher paying jobs. That's why I recruited Health Plan, Hertz, Deutsche Bank, all these companies. We've done 350 transactions--"
"But do Florida voters not have---" interjected the reporter.
"Excuse me just a second," responded Scott, "I'll finish, I'll finish, if you want to do the interview, you go over here. We're growing jobs in our state. Here's what's exciting: we're attracting high-paying jobs. Corporate offices are coming to Florida now, regional offices are coming to Florida, that's what we're doing. I'm trying to grow the state by adding jobs."
As the governor's handler announced "last question," the second reporter chirped up again.
"Why do you think you have a reputation for not answering questions?"
"Oh gosh, I answer questions," said Scott, "I have the opportunity to talk to the media a lot. I love traveling the state, I talk to people all over the state. It's an exciting time to be in Florida. Have a great day. Bye-bye."
In the end, Governor Scott answered all the questions, just probably not in the way reporters wanted him to.