Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says Rick Scott will get his vote in the state's heated gubernatorial election because the Republican nominee is an “an outside-the-box thinker” who will strengthen Florida's economy.
Speaking after a Univision debate Friday night between Scott and Democratic nominee Alex Sink, Bush said, “I know that Rick Scott's got a passion for reform and to challenge the conventional wisdom to get the state back on track.”
Although Bush supported Bill McCollum during the Republican primary, he said Scott deserved his vote in November's general election because “we need an outside-the-box thinker to get the economy back on track.”
“I think the main reason why Rick Scott won [the primary] was that he was focused on getting Florida back to work. And he has a plan, and I think that plan will do exactly what he said he will do, which is to create 700,000 jobs.”
Scott was a successful entrepreneur who helped create the multi-billion Columbia/HCA chain, where he served as CEO.
Reporters asked Bush about Scott's leadership at healthcare giant Columbia/HCA, which was fined for Medicare abuses.
Bush defended Scott's record at the firm.
“What gives me comfort, in his position [is that] he wanted to fight the charges,” Bush said. “His board said ‘No’ and he left. He was not charged personally. Maybe, had he fought the charges, who knows what the end result would have been? But I think that’s a leading indicator of the fact that the guy was doing what he thought was right. …
“I leave watching this debate saying, 'Here's a guy totally committed to job creation and getting our economy back on track.' And that, to me, is what matters.”
Scott supporters have noted that hospitals are a heavily regulated business due to Medicare and that companies typically have difficulty fighting federal claims and many simply pay the fine and move on. Scott was never questioned by the FBI about his actions nor was any company executive ever charged with a crime.
Bush served two terms as Florida's governor beginning in 1998, and maintained high approval ratings. Bush's conservative fiscal leadership as governor is widely credited for helping Florida avoid the type of economic woes states like New York and Florida are facing today.
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