TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday added more nuance to his campaign promise to create jobs, questioning the validity of the state's economic forecast and saying he just has to stop unemployment from rising.
"The bottom line is, I could argue that I don't have to create any jobs," Scott said on 540-AM in Maitland. "I just have to make sure we don't lose jobs."
Scott faced questions Thursday about his shifting position during an interview on Bud Hedinger Live, a conservative talk radio program.
Hedinger pointed to a Times/Herald video that shows Scott promised to create 700,000 jobs in seven years beyond estimates for job growth over the same span. State economists last year predicted Florida would add 1 million jobs in that time.
Scott did not dispute the 1 million figure during the campaign. But now, Scott said he does not want to be held to that benchmark.
"And now we have you on tape saying, no, it's just 700,000 jobs," Hedinger said. "It doesn't seem to square, sir."
"No economist can tell us where the economy is going," said Scott, who paid $170,000 to Arduin Laffer Moore Econometrics president Donna Arduin to craft his "7-7-7" plan.
Democrats jumped on Scott's comments, saying his jobs plan "was just another fraud."
"After days of back tracking on his 700,000 jobs pledge, Scott now claims he doesn't have to create any jobs at all," Florida Democratic Party spokeswoman Brannon Jordan said. "This positive attitude about Florida's unemployment is sure to help his rock-bottom poll numbers."
Scott stressed accountability and measurement from the campaign trail. But he has not said how he would like Floridians to hold him responsible for his jobs plan.
On the radio, he juxtaposed job growth under his administration with "unbelievably slow job growth" in the national economy and the historic job loss in Florida in recent years.
"So tell me what normal growth is," Scott said in the radio interview. "I mean, I'm saying is, whatever the economy does, I'm working on 700,000 jobs over the next seven years because if you look at the last four years in our state, we've lost jobs."
Michael C. Bender can be reached at [email protected] or (850) 228-2048. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelCBender.