Florida's tea party governor, Rick Scott, used to be a big fan of Trump. Now he knows it's probably best to keep his distance.
Far-right Republican Gov. Rick Scott is officially running for the Senate, but he’s not exactly looking to his good friend Trump for help. In fact, he’s running away as fast as he can.
Scott endorsed Trump immediately after the primary in 2016 and has been a stalwart supporter. Now that Scott is challenging Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, however, he’s apparently looking to step away from his cozy relationship with Trump.
He won’t even commit to letting Trump campaign for him, according to Politico. That’s a striking stance, considering Trump has been one of Scott’s loudest cheerleaders, repeatedly encouraging him to run.
During a visit to the state in September, shortly after Hurricane Irma hit, Trump turned a trip ostensibly to view the damage and comfort the victims into a mini-rally for Scott.
“I hope this man right here, Rick Scott, runs for the Senate,” Trump said. Referring to Scott’s time in Florida politics, he added, “We can’t let it end.”
With Trump’s affinity for the state — he just barely carried it in 2016 and has spent a great deal of his term there — you’d think Scott would happily embrace Trump’s help.
But Trump hasn’t proven himself an asset to Republicans running for office. He endorsed Ed Gillespie’s gubernatorial race in Virginia last year, which turned out to do more harm than good.
He thew his heart into helping alleged pedophile Roy Moore’s Alabama Senate run, to no avail.
Most recently, he stumped hard for Republican Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, making multiple trips to the state to try to keep a seat so red, Democrats didn’t even bother competing for it in 2016.
And Democrat Conor Lamb won anyway.
It’s no wonder many Republicans think keeping a safe distance from Trump might be the safest bet this year.
Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, admitted in January that he was hard-pressed to think of a single battleground district where he would want Trump to campaign.
In fact, the one district he did name? Pennsylvania’s 18th.
So it’s understandable that Scott is backing away slowly from the toxic Trump, even while they largely agree on far-right ideology.
Asked by Politico whether “Trump would be an asset,” Scott gave a cautious non-answer.
“You guys are the pundits,” he said. “You guys can figure that out.”
To kick off his campaign by insisting that he’s his own man and refusing to wrap his arms around the leader of his party, it seems that Scott already has figured it out for himself.