Politics & Government

Republican Rick Scott makes first Manatee appearance

EAST MANATEE -- Rick Scott, the multimillionaire former hospital executive, brought his gubernatorial campaign to a breakfast gathering of the East Manatee Republican Club at Peridia this morning.

Scott called himself an "across-the-board conservative" who supports job creation, lower taxes and smaller government.

When 40 percent of Florida homeowners are "under water" with their mortgages -- owing more on their home than its worth, when unemployment is running at record levels, and when the public education is in trouble, a drastic change is needed, Scott said.

Many of the ills can be traced back to bad government, he said.

Scott, who made his fortune as an entrepreneur, said Florida's governor should be the state's best salesman in persuading new business to come to Florida.

Scott did not mention the $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud that was assessed against Columbia/HCA or his involvement with that company.

Scott and Bill McCollum, Florida's attorney general, are the leading Republican candidates for governor. They face a primary election Aug. 24.

Scott is also scheduled to speak to the Argus Foundation today in Sarasota.