Mike Haridopolos, president of the Florida senate and prospective GOP nominee to take on Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) in 2012, was abruptly disconnected during a phone interview with a local conservative radio program for blatantly refusing to give host Ray Junior a straight answer on how he would vote on the Paul Ryan budget.
Junior: The question is simple: You’re a Senator today. The Ryan plan comes across your desk. Are you voting yes or no?
Haridopolos: Again, Ray Junior, I’m not getting into that today because it’s not the vote that I’m dealing with
Junior: But you’re on my show. This is the question I’m asking. We’re trying to figure out whether we want to vote for you to become a U.S. Senator. Are you voting for the Ryan plan or not? This is not about what you want to talk about. This is what I want to talk about. I want to know: Do you vote for this bill or not?
Haridopolos: What I’d like to talk about is simple – what did I do in the state Legislature…
Junior: I’m not interested in what you want to talk about, Mike. I’m mention what the voters want to talk about. The voters want to talk about the budget. And I’m interested in what I want to talk about — my show. Tell me: You voting for the Ryan plan, yes or no?
Haridopolos: Again, I don’t have all the information to make that decision yet.
Junior: How could you possibly not have all that information, you’re running for Senate?
Haridopolos: Ray, I thought you wanted to talk about what we had accomplished, not about a hypothetical.
Junior: Your guy that asked for you to be on the show said “Hey, I’d like to get him on the show.’ I said ‘fine. Let’s bring him on the show.’ So I’m asking you that question. The only reason people avoid questions like this, Mike, is because they don’t want to be tied in — when they don’t want to actually have people see how they would do things. There’s no reason to avoid this question. How could you possibly be running for U.S. Senate and not know what’s in the Ryan bill?
Haridopolos: I know what’s in the Ryan bill, but again, what you’re asking me is a fair question. What I’m telling you is…
Junior: Ok, I’d like a fair answer…
Haridopolos:…A lot of people are talking about hypotheticals — if they run, if they win. Let’s talk about what I actually accomplished
Junior: Laughter… no, no, no. You’re not doing that, Mike. Every single thing a person talks about when they’re on the campaign trail is a hypothetical. A hundred percent of it. There’s nothing that’s not hypothetical. The only way we know whether it’s going to be true or not is when they get into office is if they follow through on the things they said they would do. That’s why I’m asking you: Would you vote yes or no on Ryan?
Haridopolos: Exactly what I’m bringing up. My point as well. I made a promise to balance the budget, not raise taxes, not raise fees..
Junior: Ok, does the Ryan plan do that? Does the Ryan plan do that?
Haridopolos: Look, the Ryan plan is what’s in Washington
Junior: Ok, get him off my phone. I don’t want anything to do with this guy. Get rid of him.
You can listen to the audio here.
The Shark Tank reports that when pressed afterward for answer as to how he would vote on the Ryan plan — and the Medicare provisions in particular — a spokesman for Haridopolos said said he would vote “No.”
Will be interesting to see how this plays out for Haridoplos in the race for the nomination, but if local press acounts are any indication, he’s having a rough time. This looks like further evidence of the extent to which support for the Ryan budget — Medicare reforms and all — is becoming a litmus test for prospective GOP candidates in 2012, even in a Medicare bastion like Florida (which has at least one senator who isn’t ducking the issue.)