The Shepherd Radio Network is a group of stations in Florida that features the “Christian Teach/Talk” format. Mike Gilland is the operations manager, and hosts a daily talk radio show weekdays at 2pm. In Gainesville, it can be heard on WTMN-96.3 FM or 1430 AM.
Gilland has a reputation for scheduling great guests, but last week may have been his biggest when Florida Senator Rick Scott took time to talk to him on his show “Afternoons with Mike”.
Scott was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018 and is currently serving his first term after being Governor of Florida from 2010-18.
According to his bio, Scott grew up in public housing in the Midwest. His adoptive father, a World War II veteran and truck driver, and his mother, a store clerk, struggled to financially support their family.
Scott joined the Navy where he served in active duty as a radar man aboard the USS Glover. He used the G.I. Bill to attend the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and eventually opened his first business – a donut shop. Scott went on to run the world’s largest healthcare company before entering politics where he won three straight statewide elections in Florida by razor-thin margins.
On any list of potential Republican presidential candidates for 2024, Scott’s name would certainly have to appear.
And even though the interview was brief, Gilland squeezed a lot of thoughts out of him on a range of topics.
Scott spoke about COVID-19, its potential vaccine, the economy, small business, law enforcement, regulation, taxes, his childhood, his mother, the federal debt and budget, Congressional dysfunction, Democrats, socialism, the importance of voting, and the golden rule all in the span of just over eight minutes.
When asked about 2020 and the unforeseen nature of this year, Scott focused his attention to the economy, and his belief that it will improve.
“I’m very optimistic. I believe Florida is going to do well as long as we keep our taxes low and work on keeping our regulation low and allow people to get permits to open up businesses. Americans in particular are very optimistic and they’re business-oriented and they want to do things. But I think the economy is going to come back strong. It’s actually coming back strong.
And while he wants to trigger the economy, and help those who lost jobs due to COVID-19, he is sensitive to over-governing.
“I think what we need is to be careful up here [in Washington, DC]. We need to do no harm. Pass things that help people who have lost their jobs. Pass things that would help a small business get reopened or stay open. Make sure schools get open and stay open. Make sure we have a good testing program and vaccine, but other than that let people lead their lives. People want to be independent. I came from a very poor family, but my mother didn’t want to depend on government. And she never complained. We had to go make something happen every day.”
He also has optimism for a COVID-19 vaccine, although his timetable may be more patient than other predictions from elected officials.
“We’ve got to be hopeful on the vaccine. We’ve got to be realistic that it might take awhile. You just have to work hard.”
He also believes Floridians are taking the precautions they need to in order to minimize the spread of the virus.
“If you go around the state I think people are taking it seriously [about] wearing a mask and social distancing. I think our businesses are trying to figure out how to get their customers back, so I think all of that is a positive.”
Scott also dealt with a health crisis during his term as governor, and he believes the best thing government can do is to keep the public informed.
“I always believe government can give you information. I remember when I had the Zika health care crisis [as Florida’s governor]. My job was to get people as much information as possible… and I think federal, state and local governments, if they give more information we’ll respond and act responsibly.”
Pandemic or not, Scott has always been a debt/deficit-hawk, and says Washington spending is out of control and unsustainable.
“I do believe we have too much federal debt and that the federal reserve has gotten too big a balance sheet. We haven’t pre-funded most of our budget and most of it we don’t even vote on… just medicare. medicaid and social security. And that’s wrong. We’ve got to figure out how to have programs that people can rely on, but there has to be a program to actually fund them in the future and that’s not what’s going on right now in the federal government. It’s not being realistic about the financial issues we are dealing with.”
Perhaps Scott’s harshest criticism is of Congress – particularly the Democrats.
“I think you should be very disappointed in Congress. I’ve been here over a year and a half, and it doesn’t work well together. It’s very dysfunctional. The Democrats are talking about de-funding the police. When you see the problems in Los Angeles, where two individuals were shot, and then you hear people chant at the hospital that they hope they die… you know that’s just disgraceful and the Democrats are not calling these people out because they are relying on their votes.”
Scott went even deeper in his rebuke of Democrats in the house and senate as it relates to law enforcement.
“So when the Democrats decide to defund the police, whose going to show up when you make the 911 call? Whose going to make sure your community is safe? Without law enforcement you can’t open a business, you can’t open schools. You can’t live in a community. It’s not safe. I think right now you should be extremely disappointed in Congress and it’s all tied to the Democrats. We had a law enforcement reform bill, and they wouldn’t even allow us to have a vote on it. They stopped it before we could look how we can make it better. They don’t have a goal to make things better. Pelosi and Schumer – it’s all about how do they get a majority in the house, senate and the presidency in November. It’s a disgusting time.”
Although he is critical of Congress, he also has a remedy on how to fix the dysfunction in DC.
“Anytime you see someone from law enforcement, thank them. Thank them for putting their lives on the line every day. I think everybody’s got to get out there and vote and elect people that are going to say ‘You know what? I’m going to focus on building a better economy. I’m going to focus on making sure schools are the best in the world. I’m going to focus on law enforcement and living in safer communities.’
Despite the harsh tone, Scott returned to lessons from his mother to describe how he would like to see things function in government.
“Do the things your mom told you to do. Treat people with respect. Help each other. Lead your life so that you never disappoint your mom. You should live by the golden rule. That’s what we ought to be doing, but if we don’t elect people that care about jobs, if we don’t elect people who care about schools, if we don’t elects people who care about law enforcement…guess what? It’s going to get worse. And the Democrats… they become socialists. If you want to talk about darkness… socialism will kill the American economy, and hurt so many people… and if you defund the police – it’s going to hurt the poor. So go vote and vote on what will make your family’s life better. Forget about the parties. Vote for what will make your family’s life better. And you know what? They’re going to vote for better schools, law enforcement, and the economy.”
Scott also made news on Twitter when he came out in favor of voting for a successor to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – who died on Friday.
“It would be irresponsible to allow an extended vacancy on the Supreme Court,” Scott posted. “I believe President Trump’s nominee should get a vote in the U.S. Senate.”
To listen to the interview in its entirety, go here.