With 64 days to go until the 2022 midterm elections, the guy the Republicans picked to take back the Senate is ... declaring war on Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. That’s a strategy, I guess.
Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is fired up. He wrote a scathing tirade op-ed in the conservative rag The Washington Examiner that’s a very thinly veiled attack on McConnell, who told reporters earlier this month that Republicans have a “candidate quality” issue.
McConnell isn’t mentioned by name, but there’s no mystery who Scott’s talking about here. “Unfortunately, many of the very people responsible for losing the Senate last cycle are now trying to stop us from winning the majority this time by trash-talking our Republican candidates. It’s an amazing act of cowardice, and ultimately, it’s treasonous to the conservative cause,” Scott wrote. Treasonous, no less.
“If you want to talk about the need to raise more money to promote our candidates versus the Democrats’ terrible candidates, I agree,” Scott wrote. “If you want to trash-talk our candidates to help the Democrats, pipe down. That’s not what leaders do. And Republicans need to be leaders that build up the team and do everything they can to get the entire team over the finish line.”
There’s no mystery because Scott has been on an interview spree telling the media exactly who he intends to get that message.
“Sen. McConnell and I clearly have a strategic disagreement here … We have great candidates,” he told Politico Wednesday. “He wants to do the same thing I want to do: I want to get a majority. And I think it’s important that we’re all cheerleaders for our candidates.”
“If you trash talk our candidates … you hurt our chances of winning, and you hurt our candidates’ ability to raise money,” Scott said. “I know they’re good candidates, because I’ve been talking to them and they’re working their butts off.” Well, maybe not all of them. JD Vance’s lazy campaign in Ohio has been causing a GOP “freakout,” and Mehmet Oz just can’t seem to stop with the self-owns in Pennsylvania.
Scott has been needling McConnell for months, positioning himself as the outsider (a la Trump) taking it to the establishment. That included bucking McConnell’s attempts to control the message going into this election year by releasing his party platform that is fascist nightmare vision for the nation, and suggests such gems as having Social Security and Medicare legislation expire every five years.
He’s also been talking to McConnell’s chief nemesis, Trump. In fact, Scott met with him this week, apparently trying to pry some money away from him for Senate races. “He endorsed in some of these primaries, clearly cares that the people who he’s endorsed wins. And so I told him, from my standpoint, how he can be helpful. I think he will be,” Scott said.
Meanwhile, some of those endorsees have been running away from Trump and might not be so thrilled with Scott trying to rope them back in.
David Bergstein, a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, also talked with Politico, and had some fun with the interview. Scott spent a good chunk of his August recess on a luxury yacht in Italy, a decision that had plenty of other Republicans grousing. That provided great fodder for Bergstein. “[W]e know Rick’s been yachting in Europe so we’re happy to catch him up: his flunky candidates are still failing, his party’s position on abortion is still unpopular, and his fellow Republicans are still openly complaining about his self-serving, failed leadership of the NRSC.”
Pretty much. Choosing to escalate his fight with the McConnell just as post-Labor Day election push is set to kick in seems like a pretty misguided strategy. But we’ll take it! More of that infighting, please, Republicans.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.