Florida Gov. Rick Scott and first lady Ann enjoy a question that came up during a twitter town hall session on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 in Tallahassee, Fla. (Associated Press/Steve Cannon)
Scott tweeted for himself for the first time Thursday night during a Twitter town hall, giving brief answers to questions about offshore drilling, taxes, schools, state employee benefits, how he likes living in Tallahassee and whether he and his wife, Ann, plan to have more children.
“unlikely,” the 58-year-old Scott tweeted in response to the question about more children.
Scott spent more than $70 million of his own money to take his message directly to the public during his campaign. Now he’s sort of doing the same thing without spending a cent.
“You have to figure out ways to communicate with everybody,” said Scott, who said he plans to hold more Twitter town halls.
Until now, Scott’s staff handled all of the governor’s Twitter posts. He did have help as he sat in the governor’s mansion for a little more than 30 minutes answering questions. Staff helped point out questions from the hundreds being asked with the hashtag #flgov. They also gave instructions on how to tweet, but the words were his own. His Twitter name is @FLGovScott.
Scott said he had no problem with Twitter’s 140 character limit on tweets. He said that when he used to use e-mail — he no longer does because his e-mails about state business are public records — they were not much longer than that, and often were contained entirely in the subject line.
One Twitter follower asked, “What are your thoughts around offshore drilling ?” Scott responded, “need to make sure we do it when it is safe, not before”
Asked “What, if anything, is on your wish list from Washington DC?”, Scott responded, “stop giving us mandates, reduce our federal taxes.”
At one point, Scott tweeted that Ann had entered the room. Ann Scott, following the tweets with Scott, laughed a few seconds later and said, “Someone asked ‘What is the first lady wearing?”
Scott didn’t answer that one.
Among other questions he didn’t answer was “Who does your hair?” — though Scott, who is bald, did laugh when he saw it.
Tweeting wasn’t something Scott’s predecessor, Charlie Crist, was interested in doing on his own. Once asked if he used Twitter, Crist replied, “When you’re governor of a state the size of Florida, I don’t have time to be tweeting all day. I need to govern most of the day.”
Scott began his Twitter town hall at 7 p.m., and held a staff meeting afterward.
The last question he answered: What is his favorite part about living in Tallahassee? Scott, whose home is in Naples, responded, “everyone is nice, friendly, and welcoming, great state workers, good football and basketball”
Floridians can expect similar Twitter events in the future.
“I’ll get faster and figure out how you can respond and give people information quicker,” Scott said. “People have legitimate questions.”