Live blog: Updates from Gov. Rick Scott's presidential candidate forum
LAKE BUENA VISTA - Gov. Rick Scott has kicked off his presidential forum this morning, boasting about his record on jobs and other economic indicators.
"The next president has to do what we have done in Florida to turnaround the national economy," Scott said to applause at a ballroom at Disney.
"Today, it's all about jobs," Scott said.
Marco Rubio appeared first, via video due to the Patriot Act debate in Washington, telling his familiar story about his working-class parents and making a pitch for a generational change. "Our outdated leaders continue to cling to outdated ideas," Rubio said, bemoaning taxes and regulation. Rubio said he would "revolutionize" higher education and lower the corporate tax rate.
Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas governor began with a couple jokes and boasted about Scott's track record on jobs. "This is his conference and anything I can do to to suck up to him and his donors, I'm going to do," Huckabee to laughter. After a few more jokes, Huckabee pitched a "fair tax" proposal that would radically change the current tax structure for a sort of national sales tax. Critics say it would hurt the poor. Huckabee countered today that "necessities" would not be taxed. He said it would eliminate the need for the "biggest bully in America" -- the IRS.
Huckabee also bemoaned the high cost prescription drugs in the U.S. and said people should be able to get them from Canada, where the cost is significantly lower. “Who are we protecting? Obviously not the people who need the medication.” President Obama supported "re-importation" but it was not allowed under the Affordable Care Act, which Huckabee said should be scrapped.
Rick Perry: The former Texas governor also opened up with extended praise of Scott and reminded the crowd of their competition to create jobs. Trying to contrast himself with some other candidates in the race, Perry said, "I think executive experience is really important." He seemed to hit Rubio, though not by name, talking about people who can deliver a great speech. Perry largely stuck to reviewing his record in Texas, rather than outlining proposals that would guide his campaign, which he'll announce later this week.
Perry said Scott is right to oppose Medicaid expansion and that states should have the ability to innovate. He also blasted the Common Core education standards, suggesting they are a federal mandate (the standards were created at the state level.)
He did say he was concerned about a smaller military and talked of securing the border. "I know a little bit about that," he said, referring to the child immigrants that crossed the border last year. In a sign of how toxic Obama is among Republicans, Perry explained why he met with Obama amid the crisis. "I looked him in the face and said 'Mr. President, if you will not secure the border, Texas will.' " His returned to his point that "executive leadership matters."
An audience member asked if Perry would be strong on foreign policy or Obama like "accommodationist." Perry said all options should be explored before war -- including the cost, both financial and human -- but said: "When we have used every option available, we need to respond in an incredibly powerful way so there is no doubt when America puts a red line and you cross that red line, there will be a consequence to pay." Perry then said he would "rescind" any nuclear deal Obama cuts with Iran.
Scott Walker: The Wisconsin governor noted this is his fourth trip to Florida this year and talked of past visits. "We've got a lot of good friends in the Villages." He touted his record as governor, turning a deficit into a surplus. "A couple years ago, you may remember, we had a couple protesters in our state," he said, referring to his famous fight with unions. He told his familar story of shopping at Khol's, the low-cost department store and sequed into a call for a lower corporate tax code and less regulation. Walker, like Perry, stressed he is a Washington outsider, an everyman who as a kid flipped burgers at McDonald's.
1:45 p.m. Chris Christie: The New Jersey governor is on stage now, being interviewed by Scott. He's talking about lowering taxes and says the country needs to be a leader on the global stage. "We're not leading."
Christie also spoke of paring back benefits for wealthy Social Security recipients and using the money to pay for tax cuts. "We are being consumed by the entitlement beast," he said.
3 p.m. Bobby Jindal: The Louisiana governor praised Scott for making the discussion about the economy and he said Scott is right to oppose an expansion of Medicaid. In a Q&A session, Jindal said he is against Common Core (he was once in favor) but "for tough standards." Jindal is also playing up his record as governor and said the state was once laughed at over government corruption, costing jobs, and that he ushered in ethical reforms.