Gov. Scott praises Trump, but won't endorse

Posted at 5:00 PM, Jan 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-07 17:00:24-05

TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday he "currently" doesn't plan to endorse a candidate before the March 15 Republican presidential primary in Florida.

But in an opinion piece for USA Today, Scott praised Republican front-runner and part-time Florida resident Donald Trump.

In the piece titled "Donald Trump has America's pulse: Rick Scott," Florida's second-term governor credited the billionaire real-estate developer as someone "who speaks and tweets his mind freely."

But Scott said Trump's standing in the polls is more about Trump's ability to capture "the frustration of many Americans after seven years of President Obama's very intentional government takeover of the American economy."

"Have you tried to start a business recently? That used to be the American dream," Scott wrote. "But, after seven years of endless and tedious regulation and taxation, it is nearly unaffordable to do so. Americans are mad, and I agree with them."

Scott's opinion piece is in contrast to many state Republican leaders, who have lined up in the presidential campaign behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Scott had earlier hinted that he might make an endorsement prior to the primary, saying he wanted someone who would take a strong stance against Islamic terrorists, while focusing on the nation's economy by cutting taxes and reducing the size of government.

In the opinion piece, Scott said he expects the next president to have "a believable plan for robust job creation."

"Yes, foreign policy and defense will be front burner issues in this election, but let's not forget that without a thriving economy, we will never be able to afford the kind of vigorous defenses that our country must have," Scott wrote. "Our next president cannot simply tweak our national economic policies. We need a complete overhaul."

Scott didn't make an endorsement before Florida's presidential primary in 2012. But there has been pressure the past year on Scott to answer questions about the crowded GOP field, which includes Bush, Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who helped Scott campaign for re-election in 2014.

While Scott has been widely speculated to be setting up a run for the U.S. Senate in 2018, Florida Democratic Party spokesman Max Steele tweeted in response to Scott's column: "Trump-Scott 2016?"

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