HH: Joined by Governor Rick Scott of Florida. Governor Scott, you’re up early at Radio Row, good to have you.
HH: Good to have you, thank you for being here.
RS: Good. Mike Pence did a good job last night. Eric Trump did a great job, so it was…
HH: It was.
RS: It was a great night.
HH: You did a wonderful job opening up as well, reminding everyone that Orlando was only a few weeks ago, the massacre of scores of Americans in a bar, and I thought it was an appropriate way to begin, somber, serious and focused. Now tell us what you know about Mike Pence from working with him in the Republican Governors Association.
RS: Well, first, I met him when he was in Congress. He worked very hard in Congress. I worked with him to try to get the right health care package done back in 2009 before Obamacare. But as governor, he’s become a good competitor. We’re after jobs in my state. We’ve added over 1.1 million jobs, but Indiana came back, and Mitch Daniels did a good job there, but Mike Pence has done a good job there. Unemployment rate’s come down, and he’s a good guy to be around. He’s got a wonderful wife, Karen.
HH: It was supposed to be unity night, and I know Senator Cruz pretty well. I thought he was going to endorse him. He ended up combining the booing of Nelson Rockefeller in 1964 with Reaganesque touches from 1976, a complete surprise, and it shattered the night again. Were you surprised?
RS: I just, you know, we have one nominee. We have one opponent. We all need to get unified. No one else is on the ballot. It’s either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. We don’t have a third choice here. And so we all need to get unified and make sure that Donald Trump is our next president, or we’re going to end up with four more years of Barack Obama, somebody that Hillary Clinton is a career politician, never created a private sector job, had her chance to destroy ISIS and failed, doesn’t build up our military. We’ve got to elect Donald Trump.
HH: So what’s your message to Senator Cruz and his followers?
RS: Get unified. Get unified. I mean, this is…
HH: Get on the Trump train?
RS: Yeah, we’ve got one choice – Donald Trump. Get on the train.
HH: So get on the train.
RS: We need unity.
HH: I thought that Pam Bondi and you both represented Florida. Florida must go Republican to win the White House.
HH: What do you think about that, because he has very low approval ratings among Latinos. He’s got to bring that up in your state. You poll very well among Puerto Rican-American voters and along the I-4 corridor among Cubans in Miami. How does Donald Trump turn around his Latino numbers in your state?
RS: Sure. I won the Hispanic vote both times, both 2010 and 2014, and the reason I did is I talked about jobs. We all care about the same things. We want jobs, we want a good education for our kids, and we want to be safe. If he talks about jobs, and he talks about public safety, destroying ISIS, it resonated with everybody in my state. We’re a big melting pot. We all want the same thing. But he’s got to talk about jobs, and he’s got to talk about public safety. Keep getting rid of ISIS, destroy them.
HH: What is his image in the Sunshine State? He’s just kind of everywhere. He’s ubiquitous, but he’s really ubiquitous in New York City, and then in Florida.
RS: You know, we just did a poll, 800 voters in our state, likely voters, and he was ahead, I think, 3 points. You know, she’s clearly hurting with males. Hillary is not well thought of my males, and he’s winning the independent vote in our state. So Donald Trump, this is his, I think it’s just like Romney’s. It’s his to lose. He’s got the right message. It’s jobs, it’s destroying ISIS, rebuilding our military. He’s got the right message for my state.
HH: How is the turnout machine in Florida? Does it function well? Do you get people to the polls in the Republican Party?
RS: Oh, I think people are going to show up. You know, I was at an event with him the night before the Pulse attack, the day before, and he had, I don’t know, 15 or 20,000 people there. Trump is going to get the, I mean, people are excited about Trump in Florida. I think they’re going to show up. I’ll tell you a funny story, in the primary, March 15th, a bunch of Democrats called, complained they couldn’t find Donald Trump on their ballot. No Republicans called to say could I find Hillary on the ballot.
HH: Okay, so that is interesting. He brought, in my state of Ohio, I’m an Ohioan originally, 900,000 new registrants in the Republican Party, 115,000 of them from D to R, 100,000 of them, 900,000 from I to R, and 100,000 from D to R. So he has an incredible magnet effect. Did that happen in Florida in the primary?
RS: Absolutely. You could see it especially in the Panhandle. In the Panhandle, we have a lot of Democrats that vote Republican, but they clearly wanted to vote in the primary this year, so they changed party affiliations. So we had a big turnout, and he had a big win in the primary. I think he’s going to have a big win in November in Florida.
HH: Now Rick Scott, you guys always screw up Election Night, because you have two time zones, and the Panhandle closes late.
RS: And it’s close. It’s close in our state. You don’t win by 500,000 votes in our state.
HH: And so what time does the polls, is it an hour later than the Panhandle closes?
RS: Yeah, it’s an hour later. But you know, the real issue, the real issue in our state is that they’re close. The elections are close.
RS: You don’t, you know, these important election are not won by over 100,000 votes. I think Barack Obama won it two years ago, or four years ago, by 72,000 votes. It’s close.
HH: Now Senator Rubio is up. How’s he doing?
RS: Well, he’s got a primary with Carlos Beruff, two good conservatives, so we’ll see which one. It looks like right now that Marco’s in the lead in the last poll I saw. And then we’ve got two Democrats running, Alan Grayson and…
HH: Oh, that’s the ugliest campaign on the Democratic side. That’s really ugly. Please nominate Alan Grayson.
RS: I know.
HH: Can you please, would you, can you cross over and vote for Alan Grayson for us?
RS: That would make it easier, wouldn’t it?
HH: It sure would. That guy is…
RS: But that…
HH: He’s in my class at Harvard, Governor.
RS: Oh, is he really?
HH: He was crazy for 40 years. Yeah, so…
RS: But a Republican is going to win.
RS: This is, this is, we win in Florida if we campaign hard and we get our message out. And the campaign is about how do we get America back to work, and how do we keep America safe?
HH: All right, let’s talk to Ted Cruz supporters. They cheer, you saw the hall. They were alight with him, and it combined 1976 Reaganesque, a loser giving a great speech in support of the winner, expect at the end he wasn’t the winner, and all of a sudden, it was Nelson Rockefeller at the Cow Palace in 1964 getting booed out of the arena. I haven’t seen anyone booed out of a Republican convention, because I don’t remember ’64. Do you ever remember anyone getting booed out of a convention?
RS: No. This is the time to unify. This is the time to say we have two people on the ballot, let’s pick, and let’s help the person that won the primary. Donald Trump won the primary.
HH: I was in your state for the Miami debate, the last debate.
RS: Oh, yeah.
HH: And I was on the panel with Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. It’s interesting that two out of the four did not endorse, John Kasich and Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio did, but via videotape. That goes to how brutal it was. You’ve been in some pretty brutal elections.
HH: But you do have to get over it at the end, right?
RS: Yeah, well, you have to get over it. Is it about you? Or is it about the party? I mean, this is not really a truth, it’s not about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. It’s about the survival of the American dream. That’s what we’re fighting over. What’s America going to be like? Are you going to have the chance, look, I grew up in poverty. I lived in public housing when I started school. I don’t even know my natural dad. And I was able to build businesses and now run for governor. And so that’s the part of this American dream. Is that going to continue? Or do you have to be rich to even start a business anymore?
HH: Now you’re termed out. You have two years left…
HH: …which is actually a very long time in a state. John Kasich has two years left. What’s Rick Scott going to do after you get to run one of the great states in the country, I’m from California now, and so we kind of compete with you guys, but we give you a 30 percentage point head…
RS: You send, yeah, you send us all your jobs.
HH: You send us all of our people who make money. It’s at 13%. No taxes in Florida, right?
RS: Thank you very much. That’s right. I know. That’s right.
HH: How do you guys pay for your state without a 13%…would you tell Jerry Brown how you do that without a 13% income tax?
RS: Well, getting 110 million tourists that pay 24% of our sales tax, and then getting people to come down and buy a house and don’t use it. That probably helps, because they pay our property taxes. That’s how our budgets pay for itself. I cut taxes $5.5 billion dollars, and our budget is up $12 billion dollars in revenues. It works.
HH: Okay, so one minute left, what’s ahead for Rick Scott?
RS: Well, we’ll see what’s going to happen after this. I’ve got two and a half years. I’m going to be number one in jobs, number one in education, number one in public safety.
HH: You know, Ohio is going to go with you, and Mike Pence is probably going to say the Hoosier state will beat you, but you’ve got a heck of a state, Governor Scott, thank you for getting up early and coming over. And the message coming into tonight with Donald Trump, how do you think he’ll do?
RS: Oh, he’s going to do great. You know, he’s a great speaker, and this has been a great convention. It’s been fun to be here.
HH: Rick Scott, it has been fun to be here, Governor Scott. Good to have you.
RS: Thanks, Hugh.
End of interview.