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Governor insists he's not interested in job in Trump administration

Gov. Rick Scott says president-elect excited about job ahead

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Back in Florida after his meeting with Donald Trump, Gov. Rick Scott continues to say he is not seeking a spot in the president-elect's cabinet.

During a visit to a St. Augustine aluminum manufacturing plant to announce Florida's October 2016 unemployment rate, Scott answered questions about his Thursday visit to Trump Tower. He said Trump is excited about the job ahead of him.

Scott, who led a political committee that raised $20 million to help Republican Donald Trump's campaign, traveled to New York City on Thursday to congratulate Trump on his victory last week and to offer help "to reinvent the federal government."

Scott tweeted two pictures of himself and Trump, who were both smiling broadly, taken at Trump Tower. "Great seeing my friend @realDonaldTrump today," Scott tweeted. 

VIDEO: Gov. Rick Scott meets with President-elect Donald Trump

"He wants to get things done," Scott said Friday. "It's exactly what we elected. We elected somebody (who is) going to have a drastic change in Washington, D.C."

Scott said he wants to work with Trump potentially as a liaison between the president-elect and other Republican governors over his remaining 780 days in office and finish what he started in Florida.

"We've got to redesign government. Government has to work better at the federal level. We have done it in our state by cutting regulations, reducing taxes and thinking about what's better for our citizens," Scott said.

Scott says he likes that Trump is a Washington outsider and a businessman, something he says will help the country.

"What I told President-elect Trump is that I will do everything I can to help him be successful. I want to help him repeal Obamacare. We've got to replace it with something that is better for Americans. We've got to reduce our costs."

Scott, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley,  Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger all met with Trump Thursday.

Earlier this week, Scott indicated that he might run for U.S. Senate in 2018, when his second term ends, although he back slightly away from that on Friday.

“I think the governor has been clear," said Melissa Sellers Stone, former Scott chief of staff. "He has the job he wants, but he is very excited for America and the future of our country."

While Scott may not want a job in the new administration, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who appeared with Trump campaign rallies across Florida, might be interested as she is also is entering the second half of her second term. She is serving on Trump's transition team.

If he was appointed to a federal job, that would allow Scott to name her replacement.

“I think the attorney general does a wonderful job," Scott said.

Political observers in Tallahassee say a front-runner has already emerged for a job that's not open yet: Jesse Panuccio, who was Scott's lawyer, then ran the state's job agency during the recession.

When Panuccio left the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity last year, he said he wasn’t gone forever.

"I think, in the future, there will be a role in public service," Panuccio said before returning to private practice in Miami.

Scott talks about visit with Trump

Thursday night, in an interview on Fox News, Scott reaffirmed that he wants to remain as Florida's governor, despite speculation he could be Trump's secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"I'm not interested," Scott told Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto. "I'm interested in doing whatever I can to help him rewrite Obamacare, redesign the government and help him work with the 33 Republican governors who have great ideas to help him be successful. If he's successful, Florida will be successful."

Asked to react to the possibility of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had been a harsh critic of the president-elect, becoming Trump's secretary of state, Scott said: "It's the Trump administration. It's always going to be the Trump administration. It's going to be what his beliefs are. All this talk about different positions and things like that, it's still the Trump administration."

Scott told Cavuto that "you should surround yourself with people who believe in what you're doing and are going to do everything they can to support you."

But Scott recalled his election in 2010, when most of the Republican establishment did not support him, and said "I had to forget some of the things that people said" as he created his first administration as governor.

Scott expressed confidence that Trump would be successful in establishing a leadership team. "Donald Trump is going to find the best people. He's going to make sure they do their job. He's going to hold everybody accountable."

Scott, who like Trump was a business executive before winning his first political office, said Trump "has specific goals to get things done."

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.