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Politics

Obamacare Huge Separation Point for Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

February 13, 2014 - 6:00pm

The Florida gubernatorial race heated up this week as the two leading candidates clashed over President Barack Obama's controversial health care law on the national airwaves.

If there is a single polarizing issue for Gov. Rick Scott and his predecessor, it is Obamacare.

Scott appeared on the Fox Business Network to showcase Floridas economy, but more pointedly to dig away at the health care law.

Floridas going to continue to do well because we have lower taxes, we have less regulation, Scott said, as companies continue to invest in Florida. Weve got the expansion of the Panama Canal. Were the gateway to Latin America.

"But the country is going to hurt, unless we get less taxes out of the federal government, less regulation out of the federal government. Its all those things the federal government is doing that are hurting jobs. We are continuing to prosper because of no income tax, we're a right-to-work state, the gateway to Latin America. Look at our weather. People want to be in our state.

Scott also pointed toward education gains in Florida and contrasted the situation in the Sunshine State to those around the nation.

Were going to continue to win but the federal government has got to change, Scott said. We need lower taxes out of the federal government, less regulation, less Obamacare. We need to have changed a federal government. But Florida, were doing great.

Scott rose to political prominence by opposing Obamas health care law after his career in the private sector, including hospital management such as his stint at HCA/Columbia. But he recalled his younger years on Thursday as he pushed against the law.

I grew up in a family that struggled for jobs, Scott said. I lived in public housing growing up. I remember when my dad got his car repossessed. People want jobs. If we want more health care for Floridians, we need more jobs.

Scott called for the repeal of the federal health-care law, arguing it's a job-killer.

Obamacare needs to be repealed, Scott said before weighing in on the latest delay in enacting the employer mandate. Earlier this week, the Obama administration moved back the employer mandate on companies with 50 to 99 employees until 2015. The president knows its a bad law. Thats why hes delaying it (until after the election).

We need to have a significant change and it absolutely needs to be repealed, Scott said.

Continuing to make the rounds to promote his book on why he left the GOP to run partyless for the U.S. Senate n 2010 before becoming a Democrat at the end of 2012, Crist also made a national appearance Thursday. He visited Politicking with Larry King on oraTV. During his appearance on Kings show, Crist defended the health-care law.

Where does Obamacare stand in Florida? King asked Crist.

Its not in a good place because we have a governor who is trying to thwart it at every turn, Crist replied before contrasting Scott with Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky on implementing the federal health-care law. Here in Florida, Rick Scott is standing in the way of it.

Crist then went after Scotts record at HCA/Columbia, during which that company paid $1.7 billion in fines to the federal government over Medicaid fraud. The issues well focus on will be ethics, No. 1, said Crist, who made no mention of questions he faces on his own ethics issues -- particularly after the accusation by former friend Scott Rothstein that Crist traded judgeships for campaign contributions in 2009.

Asked by King what took the United States so long to pass a national health-care plan, Crist said, There are a lot of strong forces that wanted for it not to happen.

Crist went out of his way to praise Obama for passing the health-care law, though he noted other fine presidents including Bill Clinton had tried. This is the only president thats ever gotten it done, Crist said.This is where we are. It has taken a long time. My hat is off to this administration. ...

The new Democrat also said that while there were problems setting up the new health-care law, including major technical issues with its website, those were being resolved. It will take time to get kinks out but Im confident they will, Crist said.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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