Interviews

Florida Gov. Rick Scott: We shouldn't turn Zimmerman verdict into politics

Florida Governor on Zimmerman trial, National Guard furloughs

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," July 15, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: Welcome, everyone. I'm Stuart Varney, in for Neil Cavuto, and this is "Your World." And Fox on top of the fallout over the Zimmerman verdict. While most of the protests have remained peaceful, some have not. In Oakland, California, angry demonstrators setting fires, breaking windows, burning the American flag. In New York, thousands of protesters taking to the streets, blocking traffic, and virtually shutting down Times Square.

Ground zero in all of this, Sanford, Florida, where the verdict came down. To Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott who is appealing for calm.

You have calm in Florida, Governor.

GOV. RICK SCOTT, R-FLA.: Yes, we do.

But, look, I'm a father, I'm a grandfather. Our heart goes out to the Trayvon Martin family. Losing a 17-year-old son, your heart goes out to them. I met the parents, sat down with them. Introduced them to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and let them know I was bringing in a special prosecutor.

Look, your heart goes out to them. I'm thankful for those jurors. That's a tough trial, and to go through all that and deliberate, it's tough.

VARNEY: What's your reaction to the Justice Department suggesting it could bring criminal federal charges? If it did, that would bring the whole thing back again.

SCOTT: Well, they have got to make a decision on their own.

(CROSSTALK)

VARNEY: How would you respond if they said, yes, we're going ahead with a federal criminal probe?

SCOTT: Sure. I would have to look at it at the time.

But I think everybody ought to focus now on what happened to that family. They lost a son. I am appreciative of the jurors, I'm appreciative of how the Trayvon Martin family has handled it, and I'm glad we have a jury system, and I'm thankful for that.

VARNEY: Now, back in March of 2012, right after the event, the president made a statement -- went in front of the cameras and made a statement about the Trayvon Martin case -- and right after the verdict was delivered, he made another statement which I will quote from in a moment.

But, first, do you think that the president inserted himself into the judicial system? Because that has been the subject of some criticism.

SCOTT: Sure. I don't know if he did or didn't. What I just think about is, I think about the family, I think about the fact we have a jury system and I'm appreciative of that. Those six women jurors, that was a tough trial. They deliberated. It's hard. Angela Corey, a very tough prosecutor.

VARNEY: She is being criticized heavily.

SCOTT: But she is a tough prosecutor, one of the toughest in the nation.

VARNEY: Did she overcharge?

SCOTT: Oh, I don't know, but she's a tough prosecutor.

But, look, the Martin family lost a son. Let's mourn that son. You feel sorry for them. As a father and a grandparent, I really feel sorry for them.

VARNEY: Let me quote to you from President Obama's statement, which he issued right after the verdict was announced.

He said: "We should ask ourselves if we are doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves as individuals and as a society how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that's a job for all of us. That's the way to honor Trayvon Martin."

What do you make of that statement?

SCOTT: Well, we shouldn't turn this into politics.

This was a tragedy. That family has been hurt forever. We shouldn't turn this into politics.

VARNEY: Do you think that the president, though, was maybe calling for Florida to take a second look at stand your ground, that law?

SCOTT: Well, here's what I did.

Once this -- the Trayvon Martin case happened, I put together a bipartisan commission and we went through -- or they went through and looked at it, and their recommendation is we not make any changes, that it's working the way it was intended.

VARNEY: And you're going with that?

SCOTT: Absolutely.

VARNEY: Will you make any changes of any kind to the judicial system or to the rules and regulations in place following this trial and the verdict?

SCOTT: Well, here -- with stand your ground, I had a task force and their recommendation is we not make any changes.

VARNEY: OK. And Florida is calm as we speak.

SCOTT: Absolutely.

Look, we have a great state. People care about each other in our state. We're at a 42-year low in our crime rate. Our sheriffs and our police chiefs, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, they do a great job.

VARNEY: Did you take special precautions?

SCOTT: Absolutely.

VARNEY: You knew the verdict would be coming down. You moved people in place to keep a lid on things?

SCOTT: Absolutely. Absolutely. We have great sheriffs and police chiefs.

VARNEY: Was there any suggestion at any time that the lid would blow? I hate to put it like that, but...

SCOTT: We're a state that it's challenging, but we have had challenges in our state, and we -- law enforcement did a good job, the pastors did a good job, our communities did a good job.

VARNEY: OK.

Let me turn to the issue of the National Guard. I believe they're going to be furloughed because of sequester cuts in your state just as hurricane season comes along.

SCOTT: Boy, it doesn't make any sense.

VARNEY: Can you stop it?

SCOTT: Well, I'm trying.

So, they do sequestration. They say they're going to cut hours of our National Guard. Now, think about this. These are individuals that have gone over and defended our freedom in Afghanistan, Iraq, and putting their lives at risk and now we're going to cut their pay 20 percent. That's not right.

On top of that, it's during hurricane season. We gave them other ideas where they never had to furlough one of our troops. They said no. We give them ideas of how they could to do it outside of hurricane season. And they said no.

Tomorrow, I'm going to have a conversation with the Department of Defense, and hopefully they're going to say, you know what, we made a mistake. We're not going furlough your National Guard during hurricane season.

VARNEY: In the back of your mind, is there a suspicion that you are a Republican, a Republican governor, in a very important state, and this administration is not going to help you out by abandoning the furlough of National Guard people in hurricane season?

SCOTT: Boy, you would hope not. You would hope...

VARNEY: In the back of your mind do you think that?

SCOTT: Well, you hope not, though.

Think about it. These are individuals that are going to have a 20 percent compensation cut like that. Second, if we have a hurricane, they're going to be responsible for making sure our National Guard was not prepared for the hurricane. Would you want to do that? Even if you wanted to play politics, you wouldn't do that.

VARNEY: How about jobs? I know you...

SCOTT: Jobs, jobs, jobs, 330,000 jobs --

VARNEY: That's what you want to talk about, OK.

SCOTT: 330,000 jobs in a little over two years. Big turnaround, below the national average in unemployment, 7.1 percent.

VARNEY: Your whole face just lit up.

(CROSSTALK)

SCOTT: Absolutely. I ran on jobs, Stuart.

VARNEY: Yes, you did.

SCOTT: Seven steps to 700,000 jobs. We're almost halfway there after 2.5 years.

VARNEY: 330,000 jobs, but are they solid, full-time jobs? We hear a lot about part-time jobs being created because of ObamaCare.

SCOTT: Sure. Absolutely.

They're not -- of course, every job is not full-time. But, look, we're back to work, 7.1 percent unemployment, below the national average. The four years before I became governor, the state lost 832,000 jobs. We're a right-to-work state. No personal income tax. A low business tax. So we have gotten rid of regulation. I have attracted companies like Hertz, Northrop Grumman is expanding, AT&T is expanding, Verizon is expanding, Boeing is expanding. So I have done nine trade delegations around the world. And we're getting jobs in our great state.

VARNEY: How many jobs was that again, Governor?

SCOTT: Well, 330,000 jobs, 7.1 percent unemployment, on the way down.

(LAUGHTER)

VARNEY: Your eyes just lit up.

All right, Governor Scott, thanks for joining us, sir.

SCOTT: Nice seeing you.

VARNEY: Appreciate it.

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