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NRSC Chair Rick Scott “Politically Rudderless” Heading Into 2022, “Caught In Middle Of Opposing GOP Factions”

“Trying To Please Two Masters” — And Failing: “Rick Scott Gets No Love From The MAGA-Verse” Even As He “Scuffles” With The GOP Establishment

Florida Senator Rick Scott’s attempts to use the NRSC to “build his own national brand” to serve his White House ambitions are failing as he simultaneously fails to win over MAGA supporters and runs into trouble with GOP leadership. The result is the head of Senate Republicans’ campaign arm falling flat and continuing to struggle to navigate the political dynamics of the election cycle because — as always — he’s focused on his own self-serving political interests.

POLITICO reports that despite years of courting former President Donald Trump’s most loyal voters, Scott “gets no love from the MAGA-verse” as “his well-known lack of charisma” and “early stumbles” undermine his strained pitch. Trump’s top pollster called Scott out for “trying to please two masters” and dismissed his early conflicting positions as “confusing.” When taking over as NRSC Chair, Scott reportedly “fired a handful of top staffers and replaced them with his own longtime aides… without informing Senate leadership.” As one Florida Republican consultant explained, Scott’s “failure to get traction with Trump voters and scuffles with the GOP’s more establishment could leave him somewhat politically rudderless” headed into 2022.

New reporting from The Hill highlights how Scott “has found himself squeezed between opposing factions of the GOP,” a tricky spot that threatens to “deal damage” to Republican efforts to win Senate races. Scott’s presidential ambitions mean that the NRSC Chair is afraid of “running afoul of Trump” while having to navigate the “frayed relationship” between the former president and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. As one GOP operative who’s worked on Senate races said: “You can’t paper over the fact that, at some point, it’s going to be Rick Scott, the NRSC chair, vs. Donald Trump.”

The New York Times dispatch from CPAC underscored Scott’s failed attempts to energize support for his 2024 aspirations. Despite his efforts to mimic Trump’s style and being on home turf in Florida, Scott “appeared to gain little traction” as his applause lines bombed and “most people… simply strained to remember him.”

Take a look at the latest brutal reporting detailing Rick Scott’s struggles:

POLITICO: Rick Scott gets no love from the MAGA-verse

  • Sen. Rick Scott has spent years courting MAGA supporters. But he can’t quite get them to love him.
  • The billionaire-turned-politician is trying to build his own national brand ahead of a potential run for president, but some early stumbles — including a recent pivot away from Trump — aren’t endearing him with the base.
  • “I would argue what he has done since the election has been confusing,” said Tony Fabrizio, Trump’s top 2020 pollster and a former Scott adviser. “He votes to not certify Pennsylvania, yet the other day said Biden obviously won the election. He defends Trump on impeachment, yet also defends Liz Cheney. I think the real question is ‘what the hell are they thinking?”’
  • Trump’s GOP is largely foreign to Scott, a former health care executive who embraces focus groups and adheres to the talking points of the day, not the off-the-cuff brashness Trump embraces. That, along with his well-known lack of charisma, could spell early trouble for Scott’s White House ambitions.
  • But in recent public remarks, Scott has created distance between himself and Trump. He claimed the Republican civil war is “cancelled” even as Trump openly plots revenge and potential primary challenges against GOP critics. As the new head of the GOP Senate’s campaign arm, he said he would favor incumbents over challengers, which largely closes the door on the organization supporting Trump-backed insurgents.
  • A pair of recent polls also shows Scott is having difficulty breaking through. Last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll had Scott at less than half a percent while Ron DeSantis, a longtime Scott rival, got 43 percent if the former president doesn’t run in 2024. In another poll taken last month by Florida Republican pollster Ryan Tyson, 69 percent of Republicans viewed Scott’s performance as strongly or somewhat favorable, compared to 84 percent for DeSantis, and 83 percent for Trump.
  • When taking over as head of NRSC, he fired a handful of top staffers and replaced them with his own longtime aides, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Scott replaced the staff without informing Senate leadership during the heated Georgia runoffs that saw Democrats pick up two Senate seats and flip control of the chamber.
  • “He is trying to please two masters,” Fabrizio said. “In this day and age, I just don’t know how you do that.”
  • A Florida GOP consultant said that Scott’s failure to get traction with Trump voters and scuffles with the GOP’s more establishment could leave him somewhat politically rudderless headed into a 2022 election cycle where he will be charged with helming Republican Senate campaigns.
  • “The problem is he has no lane anymore. Trying to be a Trump person is not working,” the person added. “Trying to be a Senate leadership person is not working…”

The Hill: Rick Scott caught in middle of opposing GOP factions

  • Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), the head of the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, has found himself squeezed between opposing factions of the GOP. 
  • As the leader of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Scott has pledged to protect his party’s incumbents, especially as Republicans aim to recapture the Senate in 2022. But in doing so, he risks upsetting former President Trump, the de facto leader of the GOP who has vowed political revenge on Republican lawmakers whom he views as insufficiently loyal.
  • Any missteps could deal damage not only to the GOP’s campaign to win back the Senate majority, but also to Scott’s own political ambitions.
  • “There are battle lines [in the GOP], and I think Scott is doing his best to stand in the middle,” one Florida-based Republican consultant said. “Maybe he can pull it off. I don’t know. I wouldn’t want that job.”
  • But Republican strategists and campaign aides say Scott’s insistence that he can ignore the divisions within the party — and Trump’s call to oust incumbents whom he believes have been disloyal to him — may be easier said than done.
  • “You can’t paper over the fact that, at some point, it’s going to be Rick Scott, the NRSC chair, vs. Donald Trump,” one GOP operative who has worked on Senate races said. “There’s a whole bunch of activists out there now who cut their teeth under Trump and are loyal to him. And I think they’re eager to run, especially against some of these Republicans who have been around for a while.”
  • Scott will also have to navigate the frayed relationship between Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who wields outsize influence over the NRSC and has sharply criticized Trump in the nearly two months since the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

New York Times: Ambitious Republicans’ Dance: Embrace Trump, but Don’t Try to Be Him

  • And while they expected the party’s next star to be a “fighter” in the mold of Mr. Trump, they also bristled at speakers who seemed as if they were trying to mimic him outright — like Mr. Cotton and Senator Rick Scott of Florida.
  • “It’s like Hellmann’s mayonnaise — you can’t imitate it, man,” said Waverly Woods, 54, a Republican activist from Virginia Beach. “You’re either real mayonnaise, or you’re not.”
  • Even on his home turf, Mr. Scott, who governed the state from 2011 to 2019 and recently became the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, appeared to gain little traction.
  • “Oh, there’s going to be a ‘win-win,’” Mr. Scott said. “Hunter Biden’s going to win and get richer” — and here Mr. Scott paused for a reaction that never came — “as Communist China wins and becomes the most powerful country in the world.”
  • As with Mr. Cotton, none of those interviewed regarded Mr. Scott negatively; most people, and even some Floridians who said they had voted for him in 2018, simply strained to remember him.

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