Rick Scott plays ‘keep away from Trump’

Florida Republican Rick Scott is as close as any governor with Donald Trump.

Yet it’s former President George W. Bush, no friend to Trump, who will join Scott at two fundraisers for a super PAC backing Scott’s Senate campaign Friday. It’s the latest instance of the Florida governor visibly tying his political fortunes to a prominent Republican other than the current president.

Scott — who was frequently by Trump’s side at the White House and at his resorts in Palm Beach and Bedminster, New Jersey, in 2017 — began putting more distance between himself and the unpopular president this year as he geared up for a Senate run that Trump himself had repeatedly urged him to make. Scott also chaired the super PAC backing Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.

Now Scott seldom mentions the president and won’t commit to having an event with him specifically.

“I want everybody that believes in what I’m going to do to come help me win,” Scott told a Tampa Bay Times reporter last week when asked if he would like having Trump campaign for him.

Scott made the remarks in advance of a fundraiser headlined for him by Vice President Mike Pence. Scott skipped a July 31 Trump rally for GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis’ campaign for governor. In April, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, also fundraised for Scott.

Scott isn’t completely snubbing the president. He flew down from Washington on Air Force One to Tampa with Trump in July and then accompanied Trump to an official presidential visit to Tampa Technical High School — an event where their exposure to TV cameras was limited.

In contrast to his closeness to Trump in 2017, Scott’s distance from the president this year as the midterm election comes into focus provides a glimpse into Trump’s standing in the nation’s largest swing state, which he won by just 1.2 percentage points.

Compared to his underwater national polling average, Trump is more popular in Florida — but that’s not saying much. His net favorability rating is still a negative 4 points in Florida (and negative 16 points nationally) according to Quinnipiac University’s polling.

Quinnipiac’s poll showed Scott is tied with Sen. Bill Nelson at 49 percent each.

DeSantis, meanwhile, has no choice but to stick by Trump, whose endorsement and full-throated support for the congressman helped him beat a once better-known and better-funded GOP rival, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“Rick is doing what a sensible Republican should do — if he’s in a position to be able to do it, and Ron DeSantis isn’t in that position,” said a top Florida Republican who received the invite for the New Republican PAC events headlined by Bush. “This isn’t an F-you to Trump. But the president might see it as such.”



Denis G Campbell View more

Denis G Campbell
Denis G. Campbell is founder and editor of UK Progressive magazine and co-host of The Three Muckrakers podcast. He is the author of 7 books and provides Americas, EU and Middle Eastern commentary to the BBC, itv, Al Jazeera English, CNN, CRI, MSNBC and others. He is CEO of Monknash Media and a principal with B2E Consulting in London. You can follow him on Twitter @UKProgressive and on Facebook.

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