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Scott Walker denies he’s not going to campaign in Florida

in 2017/Top Headlines by

It was big news in the Sunshine State political world last week when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told talk-show host Laura Ingraham that, “I don’t think there’s a state out there where we couldn’t play in, other than maybe Florida,” referring to the power that Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush carry in their home state.

But Walker said in Orlando today that comment was misinterpreted, and that — if he becomes a candidate — he believes his message resonates everywhere, including Florida.

“Let me be clear about that — the media suggested that I would do that, I never said that. What I said is…if I were to run, we could compete anywhere in the country, the only pause I give is in deference to two favorite sons here in Florida, that I thought that Governor Bush and Senator Rubio certainly would have a competitive advantage over anybody because of their presence as favorite sons…but if I didn’t think I could compete, I wouldn’t be here today.”

In his opening remarks before the crowd at Rick Scott’s Economic Growth Summit, Walker went native, talking for several minutes about how often he’s been in Florida throughout his lifetime, with grandparents living in Fort Myers and his wife’s relatives living in Bonita Springs. And he says he’s been to the Sunshine State four times over the past year.

On reforming the criminal justice system, Walker said that he’s against mandatory minimum sentencing, and would like to have the justice system work with the victims upfront, “to find the appropriate response. Not just to punish those who broke the law, but hopefully, put them in a position where they’re not going to repeat that in the future.”

On Medicaid, Walker says he’d like to have the healthcare system for low-income people devolve to the states. On Social Security, he believes that whatever reform should only take place for those younger than himself (he’s 47). “Anyone who’s at or near retirement, we’re not touching Social Security,” he cautioned.

But he didn’t provide any details. “We’re a long ways off on announcing what those details would be. But that would be my criteria — protect people who are older than me who are either at or near retirement.”

Walker recently made news when he made some comments about how legal immigration actually hurts the U.S. economy. When Florida Politics asked him that today, he essentially deflected the question.

“I don’t believe in amnesty for citizenship, and for legal immigration, we should make a priority of legal immigration going forward, top of our list should be the impact on America working families, and their wages, and their overall impact on the American economy.”

Walker is not officially a candidate for office. He said today that he would address that after he finished working on his budget with Wisconsin lawmakers in the next month.

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.

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