Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Steve Bousquet column: A glimpse of an unguarded Gov. Rick Scott

To catch a glimpse of Gov. Rick Scott in an unguarded moment is to see a man liberated from his straitjacket of message-driven politics.

It happened the other day in his office in the Capitol.

About the only time Scott meets at length with the Tallahassee press corps is right after a Cabinet meeting.

There's usually a bit of small talk while TV news crews are untangling microphone cords.

After nearly 2½ years in office, Scott still looks like a guy about to have his wisdom teeth removed when the media crowd into his office.

To break the ice, let's talk about the weather, Governor.

It's June in Tallahassee, and the humidity is already thicker than barbecue sauce, so Scott was asked whether he planned to get out of town this summer and do some fly fishing at his log cabin retreat in the mountains of Montana.

"No," Scott said, shaking his head. "My daughters are pregnant. I'm staying home."

This was Grandpa Scott talking, not Governor Scott.

Scott loves being a grandfather, and two more grandchildren are on the way.

He dotes on Auguste, the 18-month-old grandson he carried around the Florida State Fair in Tampa in February. And now the tyke is starting to talk.

"I want to make sure he knows how to say, 'Grandpa is a nice boy,' " Scott said. "We're getting ready for that commercial."

It was a funny, human moment — and exceedingly rare in Scott World.

Back in 2010, when Scott was a political nobody running for governor, his white-haired mother, Esther, became a fixture in Florida living rooms, telling voters in TV ads: "He's a good boy. He'll get Florida back to work."

People liked those ads, and at rallies they swarmed around Mrs. Scott. She died in November.

People who talk to Scott always say he comes across as a nice guy, but it doesn't come through to the public because he's stilted in most settings.

It's this likability factor where Scott could face his most serious challenge if his 2014 opponent is Charlie Crist. Scott doesn't like showing emotion in public. But that doesn't mean he can't show more of himself to his constituents.

The only Scott most Floridians know is the one they see on TV in 10- and 15-second bursts. As the polls keep telling us, people don't like what they're seeing. Only one in three voters said he deserves a second term in a March poll by Quinnipiac University.

Scott has to find a way to get people to like him. It's little wonder that Democrats, in an attack launched Monday, called Scott a "toxic brand."

In the heat of a Tallahassee summer, anybody in his right mind would escape to Montana for a few days if he could.

But if Scott did, he'd give his political opponents more ammunition, as he did two summers ago when he jetted to his 60-acre Montana getaway while promoting a tourism ad that encouraged people in Florida to vacation here.

On second thought, maybe Scott should stay home.

Contact Steve Bousquet at or (850) 224-7263.

Steve Bousquet column: A glimpse of an unguarded Gov. Rick Scott 06/10/13 [Last modified: Monday, June 10, 2013 7:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Encounters: Trial by storm for a rookie principal


    DUNEDIN — When he nodded off to sleep, the hallway lights outside Michael Vasallo's office were on, so the sudden darkness woke him.

    The glow of his desk phone dimmed.

    Michael Vasallo, right, the first-year principal at Dunedin Highland Middle School, talks with the school's head plant operator Clint Case near the back-up generator on campus. The generator failed just as Hurricane Irma passed through Pinellas County, making for a stressful night. The experience made Vasallo long to return to his regular job, educating middle schoolers. [COLEEN WRIGHT   |   Times]

  2. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree


    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  3. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  4. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.