Gov. Rick Scott was about to dismantle a nearly $3 billion bullet train deal that state and local officials had spent a decade assembling.
But before he mentioned anything about “high-speed rail,” Scott blasted President Barack Obama’s budget proposal for “higher taxes” and creating the “largest budget deficit in our nation’s history.”
It was par for the course from Scott, who has taken his war on the federal government, and Obama in particular, from the campaign trail straight into the state’s most powerful political office.
And nearly four months after Election Day, Scott acknowledged he’s still in campaign mode.
“I’m still used to running for office,” he joked during a tour of the Florida Lottery on Thursday.
“I believe in the sovereignty of the great state of Florida,” Scott said. “We’ve got to defend the rights of Floridians as citizens of this great state.”
But his devotion to the tea party and his continued focus on federal issues — health insurance, unemployment benefits, immigration and now high-speed rail — has some asking if Scott wants to run for president.
“I wouldn’t be shocked to wake up one morning and see he has planned visits to Iowa and New Hampshire,” Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff said.
Scott has denied interest in the White House, saying he wants to serve a second term.
But the signs are piling up.
He beefed up the Washington, D.C., extension of the governor’s office by hiring former health care lobbyist Brian McManus, an ally of Scott’s Conservatives for Patients’ Rights group. Spencer Geissinger, Scott’s external affairs director, is considering joining the D.C. office, too.
Frequent appearances on FOX News also feed speculation. Scott made his fourth appearance on the network in three weeks on Thursday, slamming high speed rail as a “federal boondoggle.”
Taking on the federal government can only help Scott in Florida, said Republican consultant Albert Martinez.
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