Florida Governor Rick Scott visited with a group of Hispanic business leaders in Orlando on Monday and told them he supports the effort to give in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants. The governor talked about common themes for him during the one-hour roundtable.
"I want more Hispanic businesses to add more employees," he said.
During the question and answer session, Gov. Scott told the group he wanted to see some changes to the bill making its way through the Florida Senate, but he wants to see it pass. Afterwards, the governor explained to us why.
"I want everybody in our state to have the same opportunities that I had growing up. I want individuals that are finishing high school that are not currently qualified to get in-state tuition, I want them to have the same opportunity their peers have."
For the governor, it is a complete turn around from the 2010 campaign, when he pressed for tougher Arizona-style immigration laws. We asked some of the businessman gathered if the governor could count on support from the Hispanic community in the election and what would be the best way to get their votes?
"It's better to communicate directly with the Spanish people," said business owner Lawton Guzman.
"I think if a politician can just be honest with us about what he is doing," said another business owner, Ruben Perez. "I personally can disagree with some things, but be honest."
We asked the Governor if the defection of top fundraiser Mike Fernandez would hurt the Governor's standing with Hispanic voters, and whether that was why he was holding a forum with the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund? Here is the answer we got:
"Our state is a great melting pot. We have all these wonderful individuals from, especially Latin America, that have come here and made sure we are the gateway to Latin America. We've got the expansion of the Panama Canal, the expansion of our ports. I've done 10 trade missions. I've done them to Brazil, to Chile, Colombia, to Panama and other places to get more businesses here."
The campaign has steadfastly denied staffers made any racially tinged comments. Fernandez alleged as much when he resigned as a campaign fundraising co-chair.