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Rick Scott touts big Q1 tourist numbers during Clearwater stop; talks Donald Trump, Lake O

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Governor Rick Scott stopped by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium this Monday to tout Florida’s big first quarter of tourism.

“Today’s an exciting day,” said the 63-year-old Republican governor

to a crowd of journalists and spectators, “30 million tourists in one-quarter. It’s a record quarter again.”

According to Scott, the state has seen a rise in tourism over each of the past five years.

“When you talk about tourism, it’s jobs,” continued Scott, Florida’s self-proclaimed jobs governor. “[Roughly] 1.2 million people are employed in the tourism industry. We’re seeing almost a 4 percent growth in our tourism industry. And we’re doing this year, after year, after year.”

Added Scott: “Your tax dollars are being spent to promote our state through VISIT FLORIDA, and we’re getting a great return.”

During post-press conference questions from the media, one reporter asked how the Governor thought the Lake Okeechobee discharges might affect the state’s future tourism industry. Scott didn’t answer the question directly, but did criticize the federal government’s role in the issue.

“Thanks to the support of the legislature, we’ve made a significant investment in our environment,” replied Scott. “When I first got elected we settled a decades-old lawsuit over the Everglades. We’re investing $880 million to improve the water quality. We’ve also invested significant amounts of money to move water south […] but the federal government needs to do their part. They need to step up, and they need to do more work to fix the dike at Lake Okeechobee.”

The governor also sidestepped questions about his administration’s stance on the federal directive issued to school districts across the country to accommodate transgender students, saying, “this is an important issue, so we’re going to take our time and do a thorough review.”

Before the question and answer session ended, Scott was also, of course, asked about his support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“I think Donald Trump is going to have a big win in Florida,” said Scott. “And I think he’ll have a big win nationwide for this reason: he’s a business person. He knows how to create jobs. He’s running against a career politician who has never created a job. He knows we have to build up our military. He knows we have to destroy ISIS. He knows we have to secure our borders. His opponent on the Democratic side doesn’t believe in any of those things.”

Scott continued, stating that he’s, “going to work hard to make sure Donald Trump wins.”

He then wiggled himself into the conversation, saying, “I think it’s important to turn around our country […] The country’s dealing with similar issues that we dealt with in 2010, when I ran [for governor]. We need somebody that’s going to create jobs. We’ve done it in Florida. We’ve added over 161 million jobs.”

Scott came full circle with his concluding comments about the presidential race, saying, “when you see 30 million tourists come here — and this year, hopefully, we’ll have 115 million tourists — you see more jobs. We need somebody nationwide whose going to help get our economy going again.”   

Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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