Scott says he shouldn't have been picked for Hall of Fame
The governor says the final list of military nominees will be less controversial.
Published: Monday, August 1, 2011 at 8:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 1, 2011 at 8:44 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott said Monday that he did not think it was appropriate for him to be nominated to a new Veterans' Hall of Fame.
Scott, who served 29 months in the U.S. Navy as a radar technician, said he didn't know how his name ended up on the initial nominee list from the Department of Veterans' Affairs, which included him and six Confederate soldiers. After the list was circulated, Scott asked for his name to be removed.
While sidestepping the issue of the Confederates, Scott promised the final list of military nominees for the new Hall of Fame — which must be approved by the governor and Cabinet — will be less controversial. It was scheduled to be reviewed by the Cabinet today, but the issue has been delayed while a new list is developed.
"My goal is when we do it, everybody will be happy with the people that get chosen," Scott said. "You know, one thing, and it's the same in business, the process you go through in things is never perfect, but hopefully the end result is good."
Scott's remarks came in an informal interview with more than two dozen Capitol reporters on Monday.
It was a rarity in that it was the first time Scott invited reporters into his office, rather than talking to them in a more formal news conference room. Although he did not break much new policy ground, Scott's willingness to talk to reporters for more than an hour reinforced the change in the administration's strategy in presenting itself to the public.
Scott, a former health care executive who ran for political office for the first time last year, is also planning to visit newspaper editorial boards, which he shunned in last year's gubernatorial campaign.
The publicity shift is a response to Scott's low poll numbers. But it is also a sign that Scott, who ran as a political outsider last year, is turning to advisers with more government experience to help him navigate the state government system.
Among his new advisers is his chief of staff, Steve MacNamara, a state government veteran who left his job as a top aide in the Florida Senate to move to Scott's office.
Scott said he expects MacNamara's expertise as someone who has worked at the highest levels in the Legislature and as a state agency head to help his administration, which was initially dominated by political outsiders and has had its rough spots in its first six months.
"There's not many people like that," Scott said about MacNamara's experience. "I think he was a good choice."
Aside from the Veterans' Hall of Fame, Scott also touched on a number of issues in his Monday interview:
He expects Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whom he often cites as a gubernatorial role model, to join the presidential race. "I can't imagine he's not going to run," Scott said. "It's sort of lined up for him to run right now because you know there's not that many nationally known governors running."
Scott is not likely to make an endorsement in the GOP presidential primary. "It's OK with me if people don't endorse people," Scott said, alluding to his primary last year where Attorney General Bill McCollum had nearly all the endorsements in the race.
Scott said he wants Florida to have a presidential primary "the earliest we can do it," suggesting a good time would be right after South Carolina's primary on Jan. 28. Scott said he wants Florida to have a separate primary and he doesn't care if it occurs on a day other than a Tuesday. Florida could face penalties from the national GOP if it moves its primary date up.
Although lawmakers didn't pass an immigration bill in the spring, Scott, who backed an "Arizona-style" bill during his campaign, said he would still like to see a Florida immigration law. However, sounding less adamant about it, Scott said taking up the issue in the coming election year may not be feasible and he said he did not want to have a law that would hurt Florida's business climate.
Scott called it a "positive" step that Congress has agreed to a debt ceiling deal. But he said it did not go far enough. "The negative is they have not cut enough spending," he said.
Scott said he is working on auto insurance legislation, suggesting the current system makes it too costly for Floridians. He said he is considering dropping the requirement that motorists carry personal injury protection insurance.