By Ralph De La Cruz
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
“It depends on what the meaning of the word is, is.”
— Former President Bill Clinton in a 1997 deposition
Gov. Rick Scott based his run for Florida governor on the promise that his policies would create 700,000 jobs in seven years above those naturally created by the Florida economy.
That’s a lot of jobs, especially when they are above and beyond the norm. But it made for a catchy slogan: 7-7-7. Seven steps to create 700,000 jobs in seven years.
As the St. Petersburg Times pointed out after Scott won the election, those 700,000 would be in addition to more than a million million jobs that would be organically created by the Florida economy. That 1.05 million estimate, by the way, came from Scott’s economic advisor, Donna Arduin.
In that December story, Arduin was already backing away from the 700,000 promise, talking about fluctuations in the national economy and how — political phrasing notwithstanding — it was almost impossible to determine which jobs a governor actually created.
Well, in a Fort Lauderdale newspaper conference room Wednesday, Scott finally joined Arduin in backing away from that prediction. Sort of. Depending on what the definition of me is.
When he met with the editorial board of the Sun-Sentinel, Scott was asked: “Your pledge was for 700,000 in addition to normal growth, wasn’t it?”
Scott said no. His policies would create a flat 700,000, he said.
Scott’s step back wasn’t graceful, or even as powerfully dismissive as had been his previous practice. There was no “Hey I overestimated, get over it” sort of response. Instead, Scott spokesman Lane Wright actually denied Scott had backstroked.
“The difference here is nobody knows what normal growth would be,” Wright said, resurrecting Arduin’s December observation. “What Gov. Scott is saying is no matter what happens around us, Florida will create 700,000 jobs in seven years.”
What Gov. Scott is saying is …
It depends on the meaning of the word.
It’s been a tough few days for Scott’s prognostications. Last week, Scott went on the Fox News show Fox & Friends and predicted that whichever Republican presidential candidate won last Saturday’s Florida straw poll would win the nomination and the Presidency.
President Herman Cain? Sort of has a ring to it.
Kind of like 7-7-7.