Rick Scott on his advice to Trump, Steve Bannon, Pam Bondi's future, and running for U.S. Senate
There aren't many elected Republicans in America happier about Donald Trump's election than Gov. Rick Scott, an early Trump supporter in a battleground state dominated by Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio loyalists.
Scott not only is a fellow super-rich businessman and political outsider who ran against the GOP establishment, he also happens to have run a healthcare company, Columbia/HCA, that was targeted by the Clinton administration for allegedly massive Medicare fraud. So you can understand why Gov. Scott - a likely candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018 - is smiling big this week.
"I now have a president I can talk to. I talk to Trump a lot. I have both a president and a vice president who are friends of mine," Scott, 63, told reporters in a free-wheeling interview in Orlando today, where he is attending the annual conference of the Republican Governors Association.
Scott, who led a super PAC that spent $20-million on TV ads for Trump in states such as Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio, noted that Republicans spent millions of dollars to beat him in his 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary. Afterward, he was willing to sit down with his opponents to accomplish common goals.
"If you didn't embrace Trump, I would embrace him. I would figure out how to help him be successful," Scott said. "My experience with Trump in the years that I've known him, he's a guy that gets along with people. He's a consensus builder, he's pragmatic, and he wants to get stuff done."
His main hopes for Trump include slashing federal government, repealing Obamacare, and building up America's strength on the world stage.
Scott's office released the transcript of a speech he gave governors Monday night, cautioning against any softening of the promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
"The elites in DC have created a myth that we cannot repeal Obamacare. It’s a complete myth created by the elite insiders…and many Republicans went along with it. Their argument was that all we can do is tweak Obamacare or make adjustments around the edges. This is complete nonsense, and it is exactly the way things go in Government – they tell you all the things you CANNOT DO. You never succeed that way in business. It’s crazy. We cannot afford to “TWEAK” Obamacare – that’s a terrible idea. For the good of the country we need to repeal it before it’s too late. The clock is ticking. Premiums are skyrocketing as we speak and many Americans and businesses simply cannot afford it."
Having a close ally in the White House, Scott said, could mean more help with federal flood insurance, Everglades restoration, and Lake Okeechobee. He declined to say whether he hoped Trump would end Obama's policy of deferring deportation of some immigrants who entered the country as children, had any concerns about Trump tapping Steve Bannon, associated with the white nationalist movement, holding a senior White House role, or what he wanted from Trump in terms of tougher immigration.
"What I want is a secure border, whether it's a wall or a fence, however you do it. I want to to know who's coming into our country because I don't want another Pulse attack," Scott said.
###About his expected run for U.S. Senate in 2018 against Democrat Bill Nelson: "It's an option. it's an option I have. Right now my whole focus is how do I do the best job I can as governor."
####About Attorney General Pam Bondi taking a job in the Trump administration or, as some allies are speculating, as the next chairwoman of the Republican National Committee: "I'd like Pam to finish her term with me, but Pam's going to figure out what's good for her...Whatever Pam does, she'll do well."
###About blind trusts for investments (Scott's blind trust has been criticized too): "It made my life easier to put my assets in a blind trust and also made people more comfortable."
Scott's advice for the fellow outsider filling out his administration? "If you come in as an outsider there's a lot that you don't know. There's no book on being governor, there's no book on being president. You have to surround yourself with people that remember how you got elected and what you ran on and make sure they continue to help you get those things done," the governor said. "You've got to stay true to why you won and what you ran on. I think Trump will."
In a speech to fellow Republican governors Monday night, Scott summed up Trump's successful message: "Here is the single most important thing about this Presidency – Donald Trump does not fear disruptive change. That is exactly what we need at the federal level. The voters spoke clearly – they want disruptive change and that is why they sent him to the White House."