It was, I thought, a very straightforward question.
I was writing about a new poll showing widespread support in Florida for an increase to the minimum wage. So I sent the folks at Gov. Rick Scott’s office an email, asking if the governor supported or opposed the idea.
A little before 6 p.m., they provided this response:
“Governor Scott believes that Florida families need good jobs that lead to good careers. Even with a raised minimum wage in certain jobs, working families would still not be able to make ends meet. That’s why the Governor is focused on creating an opportunity economy that creates generational jobs for Florida families.”
Read it again if you need to. I’ll wait.
Did you catch that bit of political jujitsu? You’ll notice it sort of suggests that Scott, a conservative Republican, opposes a mandatory wage hike (as expected). But it doesn’t definitively say that.
(In fact, a colleague pointed out that, if you didn’t know Rick Scott, you could almost come away thinking Scott feels the proposed hike isn’t big enough.)
So I took another run at the issue, pointing out that the first response didn’t really address my question. Here’s the reply:
“This provides the governor’s insights into minimum-wage increases that you can use for your story.”
What’s going on here?
The governor is a pro-business, conservative Republican. Business interests and his Tea Party base, on balance, hate the idea of raising the minimum wage.
So why doesn’t his office just say he does too?
I can only offer up a theory.
The notion of boosting the minimum wage has broad support that cuts across all political and demographic groups. The poll I was writing about found more than 70 percent of voters favor the idea.
A small majority of Republicans said they supported the effort, as did a smaller majority of self-described conservatives. In 2012, Mitt Romney suggested linking the wage to cost-of-living increases. Hell, even Bill O’Reilly has said he’s cool with the idea.
It’s possible that Scott and his people see that movement and are looking for a way to stay on its good side. I suspect they don’t want to alienate any potential supporters — GOPers or independents — by flatly saying, “The governor opposes a mandatory increase in the minimum wage.”
But their triangulated, convoluted response doesn’t do him much good either. The statement certainly suggests he opposes the effort, but it also leaves the impression he’s afraid to plant his flag in that territory.
In a word, it’s mushy. And nobody likes mushy.