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Rick Scott lies about history of endorsing in primaries

May 30, 2023

The Florida Republican falsely claimed on Wednesday that he doesn't endorse in primary elections.

Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott claimed on Wednesday that he does not make and has not made endorsements in his party's primaries. He has endorsed candidates in several party primaries, including in 2016 and 2022.

Scott appeared on Fox News Radio and was asked by host Brian Kilmeade whether he is backing former President Donald Trump's 2024 White House bid and whether the others seeking the GOP nomination should drop out.

"Well, I never recommend anybody getting into a race or drop out of a race. I think that's a personal decision. I remember when I started running in ’10, I was running against the establishment Republican and everybody told me to drop out, so I didn't appreciate that. We were able to go on and win," he replied, continuing on to falsely claim that both border security and the economy were better under Trump.

After noting his personal friendships with former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and other primary hopefuls, Scott emphatically denounced pre-primary endorsements:

I’m not endorsing. Brian, I don't endorse in primaries. I just don't think it's the right thing to do. I think we ought to let the voters decide. I don't believe, you know, Washington should be trying to decide who should be our nominee for all the different jobs. I didn't do it when I ran the Senate committee. I didn't endorse then either. I just don't believe in it. So I’m not doing it.

Contrary to his claim, Scott did make endorsements in nomination contests during his 2021-2022 tenure as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

In a Nov. 7, 2021, "Meet the Press" appearance on NBC News, Scott promised to back every Republican incumbent, including those facing intraparty challenges.

Host Chuck Todd asked him: "You had said you’re going to support all incumbents and I’m just curious, does that include Lisa Murkowski, where the former president has endorsed a primary challenger? And when you said you support, does that mean you will financially support Lisa Murkowski and actually help run a campaign against a primary opponent?"

Scott replied: "Absolutely. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, we support all of our incumbents. And fortunately for us, we’ve got great candidates running in our primaries. And fortunately for us, we’ve got Bernie Sanders candidates on the other side in many primaries. And so, we’re going to be in a great position in ’22."

And even though he said he doesn't believe he should endorse in a primary, Scott endorsed Trump for the presidential nomination in 2016, well before the primary calendar was complete and weeks before Trump had clinched enough convention delegates to ensure the nomination.

"I’m asking all Republicans today to come together and begin preparing to win the general election in November," he urged in a March 16, 2016, statement. "With his victories yesterday, I believe it is now time for Republicans to accept and respect the will of the voters and coalesce behind Donald Trump."

Asked by the American Independent Foundation about the contradiction between his record and his claim, a Scott spokesperson replied in an email, "You’re writing an entire story about Rick Scott's endorsements?"

Despite Trump's endorsement of GOP challenger Kelly Tshibaka, Murkowski won reelection in Alaska in November 2022. But Scott's party failed to defeat a single Democratic incumbent and lost an open Republican-held seat in Pennsylvania, giving Republicans a one-seat loss for the cycle.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell later blamed those failures on poor GOP candidate quality.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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