As chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Rick Scott is in the catbird seat. With the Senate currently at 50-50, all he needs in the November midterm elections is a net gain of one seat for the Republicans to take the majority. And, with Democratic President Joe Biden mired in the polls and battling sky-high inflation, Senator Scott of Florida seems to have the wind at his back. 

But nothing is ever quite that simple. Mr. Scott does have several Democratic-held seats in his sights – Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Arizona, he says – yet the GOP-held seat in Pennsylvania is at risk, and relations within his own Senate conference have gotten complicated. 

Why We Wrote This

Florida’s Rick Scott is at the heart of Republican efforts to retake control of the U.S. Senate, where he serves. At a Monitor Breakfast, he responded to reporters on a range of issues stirring in this tumultuous midterm election year.

At a Monitor Breakfast for reporters Wednesday, Mr. Scott discussed a range of topics including what he calls his “plan to rescue America,” which touts work and the tax revenues that flow from it. 

“I believe in people working and [Democrats] are trying to get people not to work,” said Mr. Scott. “Look, there’s people that don’t believe we ought to run on a plan. I do. I’m a business guy. I believe we ought to have a plan. And I believe we ought to fight over what’s in it.”

Washington

In politics, as in the business world, Sen. Rick Scott has enjoyed great fortune.

Like another Florida-based politician, former President Donald Trump, Senator Scott won the first race he ever ran – in his case, for governor of the third-largest state. Then he won reelection. Four years later, he took on incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, and won.

Now, as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he’s in the catbird seat. With the Senate currently at 50-50, all he needs in the November midterm elections is a net gain of one seat for the Republicans to take the majority. And, with Democratic President Joe Biden mired in the polls and battling sky-high inflation, Mr. Scott seems to have the wind at his back. 

Why We Wrote This

Florida’s Rick Scott is at the heart of Republican efforts to retake control of the U.S. Senate, where he serves. At a Monitor Breakfast, he responded to reporters on a range of issues stirring in this tumultuous midterm election year.

But nothing is ever quite that simple. Mr. Scott does have several Democratic-held seats in his sights – Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Arizona, he says – yet the GOP-held seat in Pennsylvania is at risk, and relations within his own Senate conference have gotten complicated. 

At a Monitor Breakfast for reporters Wednesday, Mr. Scott declined to say if he would support the top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, for majority leader, if the GOP retakes control of the chamber. 

“There’ll be an election,” was all he would say. Asked if he might run for majority leader himself, he replied: “I don’t have a plan to run.” 

Back in February, Mr. Scott raised some GOP eyebrows – including Senator McConnell’s – when he released an “11-point plan to rescue America.” The plan included some controversial proposals, including requiring that every American pay at least some income tax and sunsetting all legislation after five years, including presumably Medicare and Social Security. 

The Florida senator has since revised his plan, and now touts work – and the taxes that flow from it – over just the paying of taxes. 

“I believe in people working and [Democrats] are trying to get people not to work,” said Mr.  Scott, the former CEO of a major hospital network. “Look, there’s people that don’t believe we ought to run on a plan. I do. I’m a business guy. I believe we ought to have a plan. And I believe we ought to fight over what’s in it.”

Mr. Scott also pushed back on the idea that he supported cutting or even potentially eliminating two bedrock social programs. 

“I’m not going to reduce the benefits in Social Security and Medicare,” he said. “But I think we have to figure out how to live within our means.”

The estrangement of former President Trump and Senator McConnell also can’t be easy for Senator Scott, who maintains a good relationship with Mr. Trump. Mr. Scott says he and his wife had dinner with the Trumps at Mar-a-Lago in February. And, he noted, he talks to Mr. Trump “every two to three weeks.” 

“He is interested in the Senate races,” Senator Scott says. “He’s trying to be helpful. As you know, he’s endorsing [in] a lot of races. … He’s been helpful on the fundraising and at the NRSC.”

What about the Missouri Senate race, where one of the Republican primary candidates – former Gov. Eric Greitens – is controversial? He resigned the governorship in 2018 amid allegations of sexual assault, and recently ran an ad suggesting gun violence against anti-Trump Republicans.

Mr. Scott says he’d prefer no endorsements in that primary. “I’m not just saying him,” he says, referring to Mr. Trump. “I’m saying, just let the voters decide.”

The C-SPAN video of the breakfast can be viewed here.

Following are more excerpts from the breakfast, condensed and lightly edited for clarity. 

On whether Mr. Trump might run for president again in 2024:   

He doesn’t ask me if he should run, but, you know, he’s always talking. I mean, you have to assume he’s going to run. He’s not suggesting he’s not. 

On whether Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis should not run for president if Mr. Trump decides to run: 

Oh, that’s ‘24. I’m going to focus on ‘22.

On whether Georgia GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker – who has admitted to past domestic violence against his ex-wife – and Mr. Greitens hurt the Republican Party brand: 

Georgia voters are going to make a choice. Herschel has been very honest and upfront about his background. … I think Herschel is going to win because Herschel is talking about the issues that are important.

On the new Texas Republican Party platform, which describes homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice”:

My experience is, the Republican Party is inclusive. And so I wouldn’t have supported that, what they did.

On whether the House hearings on the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol have helped or hurt Mr. Scott’s cause as NRSC chair:

I think it’s irrelevant, it’s reality TV.

On whether Mr. Scott considers President Biden the legitimately elected president of the United States: 

Yes, absolutely. 

On whether Mr. Scott rejects Mr. Trump’s claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him: 

Well, here’s what I think we have. Joe Biden is the duly elected president. I do believe, when you go around the country, people have a belief that they’re concerned about whether we have good election laws. 

I went through this as governor. You know, we’re constantly trying to figure out how to improve the election laws. And whenever you did, everybody wanted to call you names, right? 

Here’s what I tell people. It’s not just that you have to have the right laws. You have to get involved to make sure they’re enforced right. You have to go volunteer to make sure you watch and do this stuff. You know, the more there’s oversight over things, people do a better job. 

So I tell people, if you actually want the elections to be secure, you’re part of that. Go volunteer, make sure they’re secure. 

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