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Rick Scott: from outsider to King of the Insiders

Watching the passel of legislators fawn over Rick Scott this morning at the University Club in Tampa today, I couldn't help but think of the final scene in The Godfather when we know Michael Corleone's transformation into the Don is complete.

Mr. Outsider Rick Scott is now the Kingpin insider, schmoozing with legislative leaders and courting special interests and lobbyist money so he does not have to keep digging into his own pockets. Whether he can maintain his outsider persona while embracing Tallahassee insiders may determine whether he beats Alex Sink for governor.

"My job is to stay who I am,'' Scott said.

What does he think of the legislative leaders like Dean Cannon and Mike Haridopolos who helped pump millions of dollars into ads depicting Scott as a crook? "They made big mistakes,'' he quipped drawing nervous laughter from those gathered around his conference table: Cannon, Haridopolos, Sen. Paula Dockery and state Reps. Doug Holder, Rob Schenck, Baxter Troutman, Kelli Stargel, Paige Kreegel, Jim Frishe, Rachel Burgin, John Legg, Ed Hooper, Rich Glorioso.

He said he spent more than he expected to on the primary and "probably" would stop spending his own money in the general election. Still, he added that "I'm going to make sure we have enough money" to elect Republicans up and down the ballot.

On special interest fundraising, Scott said "anybody that buys into my agenda, is welcome to contribute."

Asked about Alex Sink, another business executive, he noted that she supports President Obama's agenda, including health care reform, and "has shown an interest in bigger government, rather than smaller government."

He had no qualms about ads attacking Sink for having overseen layoffs when Bank of America merged with Barnett: "If your the CEO of a company you're responsible for things that happen under your watch."

-- Adam C. Smith