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Rick Scott affirms praise for Donald Trump, declines jabs at Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio

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Hours after Gov. Rick Scott released an op-ed praising the 2016 presidential bid of Donald Trump, Scott took to the Fox News airwaves to chat with “Your World” host Neil Cavuto.

Asked whether his attaboy for the New York real estate mogul was meant to defend Trump against recent criticisms, Scott replied he just wants what’s best for his fellow Republicans.

“Well, the point is I think Republicans and I think Americans are tired of a president who has taken over our economy with taxes and regulation, and Donald Trump is talking about this. He’s expressing the frustration,” said Scott, before quickly pivoting to his signature theme, growing jobs.

Amid reports Scott’s non-endorsement doubled as a slight to fellow Florida Republicans Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, the governor sounded a note of unity. Scott gently praised both as well as name checking Florida residents Ben CarsonMike Huckabee and Trump, saying any Republican can and should win in 2016.

Cavuto asked whether Scott was “surprised” by the possibility neither Bush nor Rubio may win their home state. Scott replied the contest for Florida’s delegates in the winner-take-all primary would be a “national race.”

“That’s why I held my summit on jobs,” said Scott, referring to his Sunshine Summit, where he hosted most leading GOP presidential candidates in Orlando – but not Trump.

“I’ve read in your comments that you want to stop the infighting, that you see a distinct chance that Donald Trump could be the nominee, and you don’t want him so badly damaged that he’s going to lose,” said Cavuto. “Am I reading that correctly?”

“Neil, what I think is, they ought to talk about jobs. Outsiders are winning because they are talking about what Americans care about: We need more jobs,” said Scott, before reciting his familiar list of Florida job-growth figures.

Asked by Cavuto whether he thinks Trump could beat Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton head-to-head in a general election, Scott was sanguine.

“Oh, absolutely,” Scott said. “I believe this is going to be a Republican year.”

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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