By Keith Laing
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) dismissed the nosedive his poll numbers have taken following a series of controversial decisions, including his rejection of $2.4 billion in federal funding for high-speed rail.
"No one elected me to become most popular," he said Friday, in an online interview with The Wall Street Journal. "They elected me to get the state back to work."
A poll released this week by Canadian polling company Angus Reid Public Opinion showed 49 percent of U.S. residents support high-speed rail, while 26 percent said they oppose the railways.
Scott, however, again made the case in the interview that the numbers behind the Obama administration's push for high-speed rail do not add up.
"I'm going to give you $2.4 billion, but you’ve got to build this project that you know the cost overrun, if you look at history, is probably a billion-plus dollars, and you’ve got to pay for that," Scott said.
"On top of that, the ridership studies — it never works, it's never what they think it is, and so you're responsible for that. And finally, if you decide it just costs you too much money, you want to shut it down, you’ve got to give my $2.4 billion back. You want to do that deal? No," Scott said.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said 24 other states have applied for Florida's rejected rail money, which he said proves there is "bipartisan enthusiasm" for the railway proposals.
Scott is the third Republican governor to turn down the federal money, joining newly elected leaders in Ohio and Wisconsin. A pair of state lawmakers in Florida, which included one of Scott's fellow Republicans, sued to force him to take the money, but the Florida Supreme Court ruled Scott had the right to reject the Obama administration's offer.