Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum still has "serious questions" about gubernatorial opponent Rick Scott's "character, his integrity, his honesty," and he does not plan to endorse Scott as the GOP candidate for governor.
McCollum confirmed to reporters Thursday that he called Scott Wednesday "to congratulate him and wish him well."
Asked whether he would consider endorsing Scott, McCollum replied: “I still have serious questions and I have had them throughout the time that I’ve had the very brief acquaintanceship with Rick Scott about issues of his character, his integrity, his honesty, things that go back to Columbia/HCA.”
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Columbia/HCA paid a record $1.7 billion to settle fraud-related cases with the Justice Department. Scott was forced out as the company's CEO, but no charges for wrongdoing were ever filed against him.
McCollum's comments came in a video posted on the Palm Beach Post's "Post on Politics" blog. McCollum said he also talked Wednesday with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink.
Asked whether he might endorse Sink over Scott, McCollum suggested he would not, saying he has "serious policy differences" with Sink, particularly over her support for President Barack Obama's healthcare reform agenda.
"I'm not endorsing anyone right now in this race. I'm going to reserve judgment," McCollum said. "And I'll be like all other voters. When the time comes I'll cast my ballot."
The Scott-McCollum race was considered one of the most brutal political contests in Florida's modern history. Scott spent more than $50 million on the primary, much of it in negative ads lambasting McCollum. McCollum spent an estimated $21 million.
Despite polls showing him behind in the closing days of the race, Scott stunned McCollum and the state's GOP establishment on Tuesday, winning the race 46 percent to 43 percent. Independent Mike McCalister, a professor at Everglades University, polled 10 percent.
Other points McCollum made during the interview:
- The main reason he lost was that he was outspent. "Many of the negative attacks he put up there, some people believed them, and they would because I couldn't respond to them adequately," he said.
- Former Gov. Jeb Bush campaigned with him "as much as he could," given his heavy travel schedule.
- His campaign did well with Hispanics. "We won Dade County overwhelmingly. We won that Hispanic vote."
- He would have liked to have had more money to compete with. "There's no single bullet in this race. I think the bottom line is he outspent us, he had a lot of negative ads, and we were never able to rebut them at the end the way I would like to," McCollum said.
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