U.S. Sen. Rick Scott left the Fox News Channel bubble Sunday, appearing on Meet the Press after a good week of electoral results for Republicans in Virginia and New Jersey.
However, interviewer Chuck Todd focused much of the interview on former President Donald Trump, including how Trump endorsements complicate Scott’s efforts with the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2022. Scott also was compelled to say that Biden in fact was the legitimately elected President of the United States, a position that does not square with that of Trump, who continues to contend the election was somehow stolen.
Todd noted that Republicans over-performed electorally in the gubernatorial races in Virginia, where Glenn Youngkin won, and in New Jersey, where Jack Ciattarelli came close to winning. Both candidates kept Trump at arm’s length.
Asked about that, Scott deflected, suggesting there is a path for candidates to win without embracing Trump.
“We would love Donald Trump’s endorsement. If you’re a Republican, you want his endorsement. But you’re going to win on the issues,” Scott said.
The Democratic “obsession with Donald Trump is going to be good for Republicans next year,” Scott predicted.
That didn’t close the line of questioning, however.
Asked about Trump playing in Senate races, endorsing primary candidates such as Herschel Walker in Georgia, Scott said that Republicans “ought to let the voters decide” and that the “issues” mattered most.
“You’d be foolish not to want and accept Donald Trump’s endorsement,” Scott added, “but you’re going to win not just because somebody endorses you.”
Pressed on the question of Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who Trump opposes this cycle, Scott said that the NRSC does indeed back her, including financially in the Primary.
“Absolutely. We support all of our incumbents,” Scott said.
Ultimately though, the balancing act Scott faces between running an operation to take back the Senate and placating the former President and his base was illustrated most clearly when Scott was confronted with NBC polling that said just 22% of Republicans believe President Joe Biden was legitimately elected.
“I can tell you Joe Biden is the President. We went through the Constitutional process, that, you know. He was elected,” said Scott, who was among the Senators who questioned the certification and legitimacy of one or more states’ electors last January.
“I do believe a lot of people have buyers’ remorse,” Scott offered.
He continued to dance around the question of why people believe the election wasn’t legitimate: “I think you’d have to ask them. But I think Joe Biden was elected President.”
“You can go and ask all these questions about why people think the way they do,” Scott added, when confronted with a Trump quote from last month that Election Day 2020 was the real “insurrection” and that Jan. 6 was a mere “Protest.”
Scott was similarly opaque when asked why Trump has yet to concede the election.
“I think you’d have to ask President Trump,” he offered, before again noting that Biden is “a duly elected President” and “the Constitution was followed.”
“I hope Democrats focus all the time on Trump,” Scott said, toward the segment’s close. “I’m focused on how we win in 2022 and I know how exactly to win. Do what I did in my three races and focus on issues.
Scott gave Trump an award months back, one invented by the NRSC to honor the former President. But in an ironic twist, it’s Trump that keeps presenting Scott with headaches, as this segment kept coming back to the former President.