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Rick Scott still won’t commit to Donald Trump endorsement

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Gov. Rick Scott hewed to his usual job-growth message Wednesday afternoon in an appearance on CNN’s “Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin.” The interview was part of a swing through Washington D.C. this week to network with Republican leaders and address national media.

Scott said it was “still early” when asked whether he would publicly endorse GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, whom Scott wrote glowingly about in a USA Today op-ed this month. However, he left open the possibility of declaring a favorite before the nomination is decided.

The 45th Florida governor also sounded a Trump-friendly “outsider” note in criticizing the national Republican Party for placing limits on the debate.

“I wish the party wasn’t so restrictive on their debates, location and how many,” said Scott, but refused  to comment specifically on Trump’s ongoing boycott of the latest Fox News presidential debate.

Baldwin made a parallel between Trump’s refusal to participate and Scott’s delayed entrance at a 2014 debate against Democratic nominee Charlie Crist. Moderators originally announced Scott would not take part in protest of Crist’s use of a portable fan at his feet, an alleged breach of a pre-debate agreement prohibiting any electrical devices, later dubbed “Fanghazi” or “Fangate.”

Scott brushed the comparison aside, saying each campaign is unique.

Besides his usual tourism booster shtick about Florida’s warm winter weather, Scott mostly focused on portraying his record as governor through a sunny prism.

He also praised Jeb Bush‘s contribution to education policy as governor, citing rising graduation rates, as well as Marco Rubio‘s opposition to ending the embargo against Cuba’s ruling Castro brothers.

Scott’s appearance in the nation’s capital came as the Legislature labors during its annual lawmaking Session in Tallahassee.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com 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 ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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