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Defiant Rick Scott explains ‘strategic disagreement’ with McConnell over Senate battle

And in acknowledging a rift with McConnell over party strategy, the Florida senator continues his unorthodox approach.

From opposing the 2020 election results, releasing his own plan for a GOP majority, taking a hands-off approach to the Republican primaries, and spending more than $40 million at the start of the midterm cycle. , Scott cuts his own path in a way that has created more tension than usual among GOP leaders. At the same time, all will likely be forgotten if McConnell, who declined to comment, is again Majority Leader in the next Congress. And Scott will earn some of the credit if his party takes him out.

Despite the many questions about his tactics, Scott is unapologetic. And yes, that includes his trip to Italy in August to celebrate his birthday with his wife.

“We had a big celebration date, and we went to celebrate. I would do it every day,” Scott said. “And I hope everyone has the same opportunity to be married to their best friend and high school girlfriend for 50 years.”

Questions about Scott among Republicans, usually anonymous, have raged since the first-term Florida senator took office following the GOP’s double meltdown in the Georgia Senate races in January 2021. Lately, the woes of belly focus on the NRSC’s decision to spend so much of its money early and cancel some ad buys to further stretch its now limited funds — as well as a steady undercurrent of complaints about the quality of applicants.

Scott’s options for choosing sides in the primaries are limited by the influence of former President Donald Trump, although Scott said he would have stayed out of them regardless: “Voters choose our candidates. Scott defended canceling those ad purchases and converting them to hybrid ads with candidates as a necessary cost-cutting measure. He added that currently the party has a “variety of avenues to gain a majority” due to early investments from the campaign arm. He also transferred millions to the coffers of the NRSC.

Across the map, Republicans are worried about missing an opportunity to flip the Senate 50-50. JD Vance is struggling to fend off the Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan in Ohio, Herschel Walker trails the senator. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Mehmet Oz is trailing Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, and Republicans are beginning to bail out Blake Masters’ challenge to the senator. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona). But it’s only September, and both parties expect the races to tighten and political spending to skyrocket.

In the interview, Scott praised each of these candidates and said he spoke to Masters this week, “He knows he has to raise a lot of money.” He called Walker, a former football star, “someone who lived the Georgia dream,” said Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” biography exemplifies empathy for drug addiction and called Oz “a world-renowned doctor and the best health care talk show host in the world.”

“If you disparage our contestants … you’re hurting our chances of winning and you’re hurting our contestants’ ability to fundraise,” Scott said. “I know they are good candidates because I have spoken to them and they are working hard.”

David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, said “we know Rick has been yachting in Europe, so we’re happy to catch up with him: his minion candidates are still failing, his party’s stance on the Abortion is still unpopular, and his fellow Republicans still openly complain about his selfish and failed leadership of the NRSC.

And yet, Scott’s optimism extends even to the blue states: he sees Republicans facing each other in Washington State, Colorado, and declares “we have good candidates in other states, like Connecticut , it just depends on what the environment will be like.”

Republicans may not stake their majority on the Nutmeg State this fall, but most GOP senators still see a decent chance of winning the one Senate seat they need to take control. That means holding seats in Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida while ousting at least one vulnerable Democrat.

“The point of view on the ground can sometimes be very different from what the experts in Washington are saying,” the senator said. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who won a surprisingly strong re-election in 2020. “I’m still optimistic that Republicans will narrowly take control. It’s definitely not a slam dunk.

She said Scott’s committee “works very hard. And I appreciate that. I also know that Mitch and his Senate Leadership Fund are also making substantial investments and providing assistance. The Senate Leadership Fund bears much of the brunt of the party’s fall advertising campaign; Republicans are hoping the candidates themselves will bring in more money.

“It’s absolutely too early to be overconfident,” the senator said. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) Democratic outlook. “Confidence must be tempered by the fact that there is still a long way to go. And historically speaking, mid-terms are difficult.

If there’s one thing Scott says he worries about, it’s the fundraising disparity between Democratic and Republican candidates. He suggested this story should tell voters “how to give us money.” The DSCC currently has a considerable financial advantage after the first publicity blitz of the NRSC.

Scott said everyone from Trump to billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel could be helpful in turning the financial tide against the Democrats. Despite promoting Vance and Masters in their primaries, Thiel has refused to pour money into any of their general election races so far, prompting SLF to spend $28 million in Ohio. at the expense of pro-Masters ads in Arizona.

“I would like everyone who has money in this country to step up: whether you want to give it to a campaign or whether you want to give it to the NRSC or whether they want to give it to the Super PACs,” Scott said.

Scott met with Trump earlier this week and said the former president is interested in Senate races, though his deep-pocketed super PAC has yet to make a significant move to shore up the GOP’s position on key issues. Senate battlegrounds. Scott said Trump is acutely aware of what’s at stake as candidates with his imprimatur, from Walker to Masters to Vance and Oz, face general election voters two months from now.

“He’s endorsed in some of these primaries, clearly cares that the people he’s endorsed win. And so I told him, from my perspective, how helpful he can be. I think he will be” , Scott said.

Scott already sees Trump helping the GOP, counterintuitively, as the former president faces FBI scrutiny for his handling of sensitive documents.

“A lot of people are angry that a former president, a potential adversary in 24, is being raided in his home,” Scott said. “It energized a lot of people.”

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