MIAMI (CBSMiami) — For journalists, a politician in campaign mode can be a very tough interview. Disciplined candidates will stay on message, no matter what. Sometimes, you’ll expose a side of them that voters don’t get to see in their scripted appearances and campaign ads.
Wednesday, CBS4’s Rick Folbaum sat down with Governor Rick Scott at his campaign field office in Coral Gables. He was on message, but he also opened up a bit about his childhood – never knowing his birth father, living in public housing and watching his family struggle to get by.
“I’m working every day,” said Scott. “I watched my dad’s face when his car got repossessed. The only family car we had. Think about that. That’s a tough day.”
Rick Scott’s rise from the projects to the governor’s mansion is impressive, whether you plan to vote him in for a second term this November, or not.
His critics cite his tenure running Columbia HCA, a giant hospital chain that according to the U.S. Justice Department was fined $1.7 billion for fraudulent Medicare billing, though Scott was never personally implicated. They point to the $73 million plus of his own money that The Orlando Sentinel says he poured into his 2010 campaign, and say he’s a rich businessman who doesn’t care about the concerns of the working class.
When asked by Folbaum what to tell struggling people from South Florida who want to feel the success that so many others are experiencing, Governor Scott said “what I tell them is call me.”
And if you can’t get him on the phone, Governor Scott says his state run job centers have helped tens of thousands of people get back into the workforce – and that he’s on pace to exceed his original campaign promise to create 700,000 jobs in seven years.
“The way we can make sure that we have more and better paying jobs…is a better economy,” explained Scott. “We need more companies, we need [to] make sure Florida companies succeed. How you make them succeed [is] lower taxes, less regulations. Because they’re competing globally.”
For the governor, it’s all about luring businesses that create jobs and he brags about those that have come – like Hertz and Northrup Grumman.
“It’s an exciting time to be in Florida,” said Scott.
But he remains as opposed as ever to Obamacare – the president’s health care law that Scott was one of the first to oppose. It landed him on national television, and helped launch his political career. In spite of evidence that the number of uninsured people is dropping, and that people are beginning to see the law’s benefits after its rocky roll out, the governor calls it a disaster.
But what about people who say they’ve been helped by Obamacare, such as people with pre-existing conditions or young people who can stay on their parents’ plans?
“The most we can do, the best thing we can do for somebody and what we should do is to get them a job,” said Scott. “If you want good health care, get a job. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to create an environment where you can get a good paying job.”
Folbaum went on to ask the governor if he would allow an expansion on Medicaid to take place but Scott simply replied “well I haven’t changed my position. The legislature makes that decision.”
That’s true, but it may help move the legislature along if Scott more vocally the portion of the Affordable Care Act that calls for states to expand Medicaid. When Folbaum suggested this possibility, the governor reiterated “well, what I, what I, I mean, I didn’t change my position.”
Actually, the governor has changed his position. After initially saying no to expanding Medicaid, the governor reversed course. Though he has not pressured the Republican controlled state legislature to do it, the move would provide health insurance for more than a million low income Floridians and reportedly create 63,000 new health care related jobs.
Click here to watch Rick Folbaum’s report.