Rick Scott gives the candidates advice for this Thursday’s GOP debate

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Not that anyone was asking him, but Rick Scott has a lot of thoughts about what he wants to hear from the 17 Republican presidential candidates who will be participating in the two debates from Cleveland this Thursday (seven candidates will debate at 5 p.m. while the top 10 candidates in the polls engage in the primetime debate at 9 p.m.). And after reading his manifesto, one has to wonder if he doesn’t wish he were running for higher office this year.

Perhaps not surprisingly from the man whose nearly single focus as governor has been about creating jobs, Scott writes that, yes, foreign policy and cultural issues are important, but he personally will support the candidate who has the best plan to “grow the real American economy, not the government economy, and the capability to actually execute that plan.” In June, he hosted six presidential candidates at a forum in Orlando, a forum that was devoted exclusively to discussing economic issues.

The 692-word statement, first reported by POLITICO, is titled, “What We Must Demand from the Republican August 6th Debates.” In it, Scott boasts about creating 900,000 jobs in the four and a half years since he’s been in office, and calls on the next president to have a plan to add 12 million jobs in the next four years. He also wants the next Republican president to cut federal regulations “in half,” and says the next Republican president must also balance the budget “now, and not in 10 years.”

Scott doesn’t explicitly say that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed, but says that all individual and employer mandates and all taxes under the law should go away. He also wants to convert Medicaid into a state block grant program, and boasts that Florida has not expanded Medicaid (though of course in 2013 he advocated for the Legislature to do just that).

Scott also weighs in on foreign affairs, calling for the Iran nuclear deal and rapprochement with Cuba to be scuttled.

And he takes a shot at the Democratic Party presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, writing that “the theme of our international policy, spearheaded by Hillary Clinton, has been: Ignorance is bliss.”

He then writes that Clinton will be beaten by “the most intelligent, driven, selfless, determined individual of the 17 Republican candidates. This candidate must not be afraid to stick to his or her ideals and transform America into the economic superpower we should be.”

Scott’s interest in federal issues shouldn’t be surprising. A former healthcare executive, Scott’s only seeming interest in politics previously was his involvement fighting healthcare reform in both the ’90s against the Clintons and in President Obama’s first term when the Affordable Care Act was passed.

When he ran in 2010 for governor, one of his big talking points was advocating for an Arizona-style immigration system, even though Florida’s issues with immigration were hardly the same as what a border state like Arizona was contending with at the time.

And he has done little to tamp down rumors that he’s interested in running against Bill Nelson for Senate in 2018.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.