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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Governor ducks away from reporters for one last meeting with Tea Party




Florida Governor Rick Scott leaves the Florida House Chamber after his State of the State speech, Tuesday. Scott made no comment to members of the media after the speech. [Scott Keeler, Times]

After finishing his speech, Gov. Rick Scott refused to take any questions from reporters then quietly ducked into the Cabinet meeting room to meet with about 50 members of the Tea Party. "This is about accountability and I know you'll do that and I just hope you'll stay active with me,'' he said. "If we do the right thing, we'll be a model for the rest of the country."

Scott's press staff first attempted to throw out a reporter, then demanded that no be questions asked of the him, as he continued to court the friendly crowd that had rallied in Tallahassee earlier in the day. "We're doing the right thing for people,'' Scott told supporters. "This is about jobs."

Kathleen Waligore, 51, a member of the Pasco County chapter of the Tampa 912 group, cheered the governor for his memorable line: Don't Blink. "That's what it's about,'' she said. As to whether the legislature will embrace his demands, she said: "No budget's perfect and our job is to hold everyone accountable -- doesn't matter if it's the Legislature or the governor. We will continue to talk to legislators."

After the speech, Sen. John Thrasher, a St. Augustine Republican, agreed with the governor that the goal for lawmakers is "Don't Blink. If you blink you're never going to get things done that you need to get done. If you start thinking about your next campaign, which I know he's not, you're thinking about what's best for the state of Florida."

Rep. Steve Precourt, an Orlando Republican, said the governor's courtship with the Tea Party is "helping us keep our focus. It's all about jobs this year.''

He said the legislature will be providing some tax relief as the governor has asked. "I don't know the specific number but we'll provide Floridians with tax relief this year."



[Last modified: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 7:36pm]


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