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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript


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CROWLEY: Athena Jones, covering the Dick Cheney heart transplant story. Thank you so much. On to our show. George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida, told authorities he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin bringing into focus a seven-year-old Florida law that reads in part, a person has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do to prevent death or great bodily harm.

Since stand your ground was enacted in Florida, the an number of Florida cases found to be justifiable homicide was nearly tripled from an average 12 a year to 33.

This week Florida Governor Rick Scott appointed a special prosecutor to oversee the Martin case and created a task force to review the stand your ground law.

And joining me now for an exclusive interview Governor Rick Scott from Florida.

Thank you, sir, for joining us.

SCOTT: Good morning.

Well, I want -- you just feel -- your heart goes out to that family. I had the opportunity to meet with the parents Thursday night to let them know that I appointed a new state attorney and introduced them to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents that are working on the case. And you're just -- you know, your heart goes out to them, because you just no family ever imagines this could ever happen to their child.

CROWLEY: You must have -- with the stand your ground law, which may or may not apply to this case, but certainly you must have had questions about the state law before you appointed this task force.

SCOTT: What you want to make sure is you just -- you want to make sure everybody feels comfortable with public safety in our state. And so as you know, I put together a task force led by my lieutenant governor who's African-American and I'm going to have different elected officials appoint individuals, but we'll look at all of it.

But the first thing we're going to do is really do a thorough investigation to see what happened here. We've -- no one can imagine this happened to their family. We've got to find out exactly what's going to happen. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement state attorney Angela Corey, is going to do a great job knowing what happened and make sure justice prevails. We have to do that.

CROWLEY: Governor, does this look like a race thing to you?

SCOTT: Well, you know, there's nothing I know about that. I know we'll find that -- I think we'll find that out in the investigation. You hope it's never the case, but we'll look at all these things and find out what happened. We're going to do -- there will be a thorough investigation, justice will prevail. We have got to make sure there's justice for Mr. Martin's family and also justice for George Zimmerman.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, one of the things that -- one of the criticisms has been it took more than a month for anyone to really notice this case, and that includes you, because this week was when you appointed -- or switched attorneys and when you appointed the task force. Why did it take you this long?

SCOTT: Well, first off, I don't have the authority to appoint a new state attorney unless the existing state attorney withdraws.

CROWLEY: You could have pushed them out sooner.

SCOTT: Everything you do in life, I would love to do things faster, and you get more information and you see about problems faster. So, I would love to do things faster. The right thing happened here. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will do a thorough investigation. They're known for that. Angela Corey is a very good state attorney who I have known for a long time, she will do a great job.

CROWLEY: And finally you mentioned George Zimmerman, the man who admitted to police that he shot, claims it was self-defense. There are various things that tell us that was not the case. There have been death threats against him. Is there some -- does the state feel that it needs to protect him while this case moves on or do you know where he is? What do you know about Zimmerman?

SCOTT: Well, you've got to make sure there's due process. You have got to make sure there's due process for somebody that's accused of a crime. You've got make sure they're safe. CROWLEY: Which he hasn't been accused of yet.

SCOTT: He has not been accused. You have got to make sure no one feel uncomfortable that's not been accused of a crime. So if he feels unsafe, then we'll make sure nothing happens to him.

CROWLEY: Has there been any request of that sort?

SCOTT: Not at the governor's office.

CROWLEY: Not that you know of.

OK, do you expect charges in this case?

SCOTT: I'm not sure. We have to wait and see what the facts are.

CROWLEY: Let me move you on to the state of Florida and a Republican ad for you that caught our eye that's running in the state.


ANNOUNCER: Governor Rick Scott's cutting the red tape, getting government off the backs of businesses. Over a dozen new pro business initiatives passed by Governor Scott and Republican legislators.


CROWLEY: Let me tell you the political interpretation in Washington of this spot and that is you have two years before you would run for re-election, so the reason this spot is out there is that there is a worry that your approval ratings will be a drag on the Republican ticket this year and the presidential race. Would you like to disabuse me of that?

SCOTT: Well, I mean, I think what my job is to get the state back to work. I mean, that's what I ran on. And that's -- if you look at what we've done -- we've had two sessions so far. We've reduced taxes, we've reduced regulation, and the state is getting busier again.

You know, clearly -- you know, whoever wins this fall in all races whether it's the presidential race in Florida or in our other races, is going to depend on how they perceive the governor and how they perceive -- that ad talks about what we've done and the Florida -- and the Republican Florida legislature because we have a majority in both.

CROWLEY; So why did you run that ad?

SCOTT: Well, to get our message out. We have unemployment has dropped considerably. We're at a three-year low. We're talking to companies all the time about getting them to come to Florida.

This week Embraer is adding a research design center in Florida. 7-eleven is adding a whole lot of scores in the Jacksonville area, came back, they haven't been there in 20 years.

It's part of telling our message that Florida is absolutely open for business.

CROWLEY: We should add that your numbers actually have gone up in the approval rating. You're still sort of below water as they say, but nonetheless they have improved.

I wanted to ask you about the unemployment rate. It is the lowest it's been in three years, 9.6 percent, which isn't anything to brag home about but nonetheless it is lower than it's been this three years. But then this month job creation fell like 36,000 jobs lost in Florida, which is the biggest monthly loss of any state. What happened?

SCOTT: Well, you don't -- the numbers don't make sense to me. We have 24 workforce boards and we track every month how many jobs they filled. They filled 35,000 jobs. We're at a -- when I came into office, 568,000 people were on unemployment, now it's about 360,000. So, we're making progress every month. So I know -- those numbers -- we dropped 0.3 percent unemployment that month and lost jobs. I'm not sure--

CROWLEY: Haven't figured that out yet. SCOTT: But, you know, I assume that February will be different and we'll see what happens over the year because we had a great 2011.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you -- I want to move you to the Republican race just to get -- you haven't picked -- endorsed anyone publicly yet. Do you think it's time? We saw Jeb Bush come out and say Mitt Romney. Time to bring the party together. Do you feel that it's time for this Republican race to end?

SCOTT: Look, I think it's great. We're learning more about these candidates every day. I think the race is great. I think that if it goes on, we're going to learn more about all the candidates that are up there. It creates a lot of interest. It looks like we'll have a nominee by the time of the convention which, of course, will be in the great state of Florida.

But I think it's great they're having a race.

CROWLEY: But you know, all of the figures sort of run against that. When you look at what has happened to Mitt Romney and to Newt Gingrich and to Rick Santorum over the time, it has been that independents, who are quite valuable in Florida as you know are walking away from these candidates at this point, that this has become damaging to the image of the Republican Party because it has been so fierce.

And that the theory being there has to be some time for making up this image deficit.

SCOTT: You know what I think? I think the election is going to be about one issue. Tell me what the job picture is going to be. Whoever has a plan that the American public believes is going -- I won my race because they believed I had a jobs plan. That's why I won. That's why I won. That's who is going to win this fall.

Whoever has -- when you go to the ballot, you're going to say, who is going to make sure that there's a greater chance I'm going to have a job next year? That's who is going to win.

And I believe the Republican nominee will be that, but, you know, whoever -- that's what they're going to have to do. I'm glad that now they are talking about jobs. I don't think they talked about jobs enough in the early primaries. It was a lot of other issues.

This is about jobs. In our state it's education for your child, it's jobs, and keep the cost of living low. That's what's important. CROWLEY: So can I just extrapolate from that? We are seeing improving economic figures in your state, but nationwide that certainly is going to benefit the president this fall.

SCOTT: Absolutely. But in the end it's going to be, tell me what you're going to do to make sure our country is the number one place in the world to build businesses. That's how you get a job.

I'm doing that in Florida. We're going to make sure Florida is the number one place in this country if you want to build a business.

CROWLEY: At least I know you will have activity in August...

SCOTT: We're going to be busy.

CROWLEY: ... with the convention. Thank you so much, Governor Rick Scott.

SCOTT: Thanks, Candy.

CROWLEY: We appreciate your time.


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