Florida Sen. Rick Scott endorses Trump as 2024 battle shifts to their state

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Sen. says that despite his home-state governor running for president, backing for the Republican nomination again was a no-brainer for him.

“I have known Trump a long time before … I endorsed him in 2016, and I worked with him well when I was governor [of Florida] and in the Senate,” Scott told NBC News, in his first interview following his endorsement Thursday of Trump, which was first reported by The Messenger. “When you look at what is going on in the world today, this would not be happening if he was the president.”

“I think we all should come together and do everything we can to help him win the nomination so we can beat Biden,” he added.

Scott is backing Trump in a race that includes his successor as Florida governor, — but Scott and DeSantis have had tension in the past, and Scott has been longtime political allies with Trump.

In 2016, Scott was among the first Republican governors to endorse Trump, and he ran a pro-Trump super PAC that year as well. In addition, the two worked closely during the 2022 midterms, when Scott was chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Scott said he has not spoken to DeSantis since August, and the topic then had nothing to do about politics. They spoke about Hurricane Idalia plowing into Florida

“He has never talked to me about an endorsement,” Scott said.

In a statement, DeSantis communications director Andrew Romeo touted DeSantis’ support from other officials in Florida as well as in early voting states.

“Ron DeSantis has more endorsements from state legislators than the former president in Iowa (41), New Hampshire (62), and South Carolina (16),” Romeo said in the statement. “He also has the support of almost all Florida elected officials because he worked with them to deliver historic results for the conservative movement. The governor will win his home state because Floridians want to see a fighter who will bring the same type of results-oriented leadership to Washington that he has provided in the Sunshine State.”

Scott has been meeting with local Republican executive committees throughout Florida, and he said the feedback he has gotten from grassroots members of the party is that they want DeSantis to stay in the governor’s mansion.

“In the case of DeSantis, I know he works hard for Florida. I have been doing a lot of these [Republican Executive Committee] events and a lot of them just want him to come home and be governor,” Scott said. “They just elected him and they support him.”

Scott’s endorsement comes ahead of a very Florida-focused week for the Trump campaign, as his rivals prepare to debate in Miami on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

Trump is the keynote speaker at a presidential forum in Orlando hosted by the Republican Party of Florida, an event where DeSantis was given a midafternoon speaking slot by his home-state GOP. In addition, Trump is expected to announce endorsements from more Florida Republicans, host party leaders at a reception at Mar-a-Lago, and hold a South Florida rally on the same day as the third GOP debate.

Scott said “no” when asked if his endorsement was timed to coincide with those events. He said he has been considering it for awhile, and several things, including the terrorist attacks in Israel, helped him make the decision to announce his support for Trump now.

“It is not like one thing happened,” he said. “It’s sort of additive.”

Because he is up for re-election himself in 2024, Scott said he will help Trump’s campaign, but he will not be able to fundraise for the former president as aggressively as he has in the past.

“I have endorsed Trump and want him to win and I am going to help him, but I have two other jobs right now,” Scott said. “I have to do my job in the Senate, and we have a lot of problems there, and I have my race.”

Scott is a heavy favorite in his primary race against Republican Keith Gross, a relative no-name in Florida politics — but who has said he could put upward of $30 million of personal money into the race. NBC News reported last week that in 2008 Gross, then a Democrat, was kicked off the ballot in Georgia for a state House seat after a judge was “troubled” by claims he had made about his eligibility.

When asked about the issue, Scott pivoted to previewing lines he may use against his likely general election opponent, former Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who launched a Senate campaign in August.

Scott called her a “radical socialist” and noted that groups aligned with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., spent tens of millions of dollars in 2018 trying to defeat him, when he was running against an incumbent Democrat, Bill Nelson.

Scott ended up winning by a relative handful of votes out of millions cast — as did DeSantis in his own race that year.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com


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