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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott's 'job interview' in tiny Molino, Fla.



Molino, Florida (pop. 1312) north of Pensacola, is way off the beaten track for statewide candidates, but Rick Scott paid a visit Friday and met with 75 locals at Fran's Country Grill, popular for its fried catfish. Scott couldn't possibly stick to his script because residents, without warning, fired questions at him on everything from the high cost of auto tag fees to no-fault car insurance to septic tank rules. scottchance2.JPG

The first questioner was Ray Chance, who seemed to glare at Scott through dark sunglasses. "I run trucks," Chance told Scott. "My dad was a truck driver," Scott said, sensing trouble ahead.

Chance said he's being driven out of business by the sky-high cost of tag fees for his trucks that went from $1,058 "to damn near $2,000. What's the problem?"

"Government has gotten too big," Scott said, glossing over the fact that his fellow Republicans have been in charge since 1998. Scott didn't tell Chance that his fellow Republicans in the Legislature jacked up those tag fees in 2009 to balance the budget, then told Floridians they didn't raise taxes. Chance later walked up and shook Scott's hand and said he'd vote for him.

"He (Chance) was asking the wrong person," said Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, one of two House members who voted for the higher fees and witnessed the exchange. Rep. Dave Murzin, R-Pensacola, was also there.

In Molino, at his ninth stop of the day, with two more still to go, Scott said he welcomed the questions: "This is like a job interview," adding that if he fails to carry out his promises, "You can call my office and yell, and I'm good with that."

[Last modified: Saturday, October 30, 2010 11:04am]


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