Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera told a small group of Republicans and businsses people on Tuesday in Brandon that if he is elected to the U.S. Senate he would support eliminating the U.S. Department of Education, would push for entitlement reforms to help rein in government spending and pledged he'd hold town hall meetings throughout the state every month to stay connected with voters.
His wide ranging comments came during an hour-long stop in Hillsborough County at the start of what Lopez-Cantera is calling his "Florida First Tour." The Republican from Miami said the tour is aimed at listening to smaller groups of community and business leaders to hear what is on their minds and less about him giving speeches.
After being asked by one of the people he was meeting with if he would support getting rid of whole federal agencies like the Department of Education, Lopez-Cantera said yes.
"It's a good idea to get rid of the Department of Education," he said while holding court at Moreno Bakery in Brandon with 10 people.
He said he'd support more of a block grant approach on education where funding goes to the locals to make the decisions on education issues.
On entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid, Lopez-Cantera said the nation has to do something about them to rein in the spending. He said they are taking up an ever bigger piece of the federal budget annually and there are ways to reform those systems without reducing benefits for current retirees or those close to retirement.
He added that Florida did the right thing by refusing to expand Medicaid in Florida as part of the federal Affordable Care Act because of the growing financial burden of Medicaid.
Finally, when Tampa resident Nadeen Wincapaw talked about her frustration of electing Republicans in the past who have not lived up to expectations, Lopez-Cantera said part of the solution will be his plan to hold regular public events in Florida to make sure he doesn't lose touch with people back home.
"I have committed to have monthly town hall meetings in Florida," said Lopez-Cantera, who later on Tuesday spoke to just over 400 people at the Pasco Republican Party Executive Committee's Ronald Reagan Dinner in New Port Richey.
Lopez-Cantera is one of five Republicans running for the U.S. Senate in hopes of replacing U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who is not seeking re-election. U.S. Reps. David Jolly and Ron DeSantis, plus Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff and businessman Todd Wilcox are also running in the Aug. 30 primary.
Lopez-Cantera was not the only candidate working the Tampa Bay region on Tuesday. Wilcox did radio and television interviews in the region, while also speaking to a veterans group in Tampa and later at the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee's monthly meeting.