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Business Observer Sunday, Apr. 14, 2019 8 months ago

Great Scott: Governor-turned-senator shows a lighter side

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U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Naples, recently spoke to a group of Sarasota area business leaders.

U.S. Senator Rick Scott — even among allies and supporters — isn’t someone normally praised for rousing speeches or robust oratory skills. He’s usually a just-the-facts kind of speaker, often touting his jobs record or another accomplishment in a low-key style.

That made Scott’s quick appearance at an Argus Foundation lunch in Sarasota April 12 all the more surprising. A bit-self depreciating, with lots of digs at the D.C. Swamp, the former governor was in rare firm in a 20-minute speech.

“It’s crazy how dysfunctional it is,” Scott told the crowd of about 200 people at Michael’s on East, mostly members of Argus, a leading Sarasota-area pro-business group. “It’s really difficult to get stuff done.”

A Republican who lives in Naples when he’s not in a Washington D.C. condo during the workweek, Scott touched on several aspects of being the most junior senator in the Senate. The list includes:

• The week starts with meetings Mondays among Republican Senators and staff — and no one is ever on time, says Scott. He has lunch with a small group of Senators Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and has become “buddies” with a few, he says. The Senate also takes a lot of breaks and recess time, laments Scott, known for his brisk work pace in Tallahassee for eight years. “We just took recess,” says Scott, to laughter, “not that we got anything done. I mean who does that?”

• Issues Scott is working on include term limits, lower drug prices and disaster relief bills. On two bills, one funding for the Everglades and one on lower drug prices, he joked about a surprising ally: U.S Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democrat Socialist, voted for the same bills. “I might have gone off the deep end,” quipped Scott to more laughter. “You never know.”

• On a more serious tone, Scott talked about his efforts to work with other Senators and the Trump Administration on helping, and stabilizing, Venezuela.

Even with his stories of government malaise, several times Scott mentioned his belief that things will get better. “I’m optimistic in the country,” he says. “I’m optimistic good things will happen eventually.”

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