TAMPA — At two stops Monday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott was asked about the things that have come to dominate his public schedule: his plan for the 2012 legislative session, his belief that the state doesn't need more anthropology majors and his inconsistent math when it comes to creating 700,000 private-sector jobs in the state.
During a morning visit at Advanced Protection Technologies, a Clearwater manufacturer that produces industrial surge protectors, Scott reiterated a legislative agenda for next year that includes business tax cuts despite a projected budget shortfall.
Scott toured the manufacturing plant for about 30 minutes before meeting with a handful of workers, asking them for ideas on how to create jobs.
One worker asked about the prospect of Cuba drilling for oil near Florida's coast, and whether Florida should drill itself. "Right now, we ought to be careful," Scott answered.
Later, Scott rolled through more of his legislative agenda during a 25-minute talk to the Westshore Alliance, a Tampa business group.
Scott told the group he wants to emphasize science, technology, engineering and math degrees, or "degrees in things where you can get jobs." Scott faced criticism last week when he told a radio talk show host that Florida doesn't need "a lot more anthropologists in this state."
One of Scott's daughters, Jordan Kandah, has an anthropology degree from the College of William and Mary.
"I love anthropology degrees, just so you know," Scott told the crowd of about 400, which included Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
Scott then recounted a phone conversation with his daughter after the story broke.
" 'Dad, do you know I'm the No. 1 story on Yahoo! today?' " Scott said, mimicking his daughter to laughter.
Later in a session with reporters, Scott was again asked to explain how he planned to keep his central campaign promise of creating 700,000 private-sector jobs over seven years. During his campaign, Scott said those jobs would be in addition to "what's projected" as normal growth. State economists projected Florida would gain 1 million jobs in the same period, regardless of who was elected governor.
Scott deflected the predictions of state economists Monday, as well as his previous statements.
"Whether the economy goes up or goes down, my focus is what I've committed to, 700,000 jobs over the next seven years," Scott said.
Aaron Sharockman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.