Florida Sen. Rick Scott, the leader of Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, said Friday that he isn’t taking sides in internal GOP conflicts, as leaders clash over former President Donald Trump’s role in the party.
Scott said some may believe his role as leader of the National Republican Senatorial Committee is to “mediate between warring factions on the right and mediate the war of words between the party leaders.”
“I’m not going to mediate anything,” Scott told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla. “Instead, I’m going to fight for our conservative values. I’m going to do it boldly, and I’m not going to apologize to anyone for what we believe in.”
Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell traded barbs following the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol, and an ongoing internal party conflict over Trump’s role in the GOP could play out in upcoming Republican primaries.
Echoing a memo Scott sent to donors and supporters this week, Scott told CPAC, “Some prefer to fan the flames of a civil war on our side. That’s foolish. It’s ridiculous. We have absolutely serious work to get done. We don’t have time for that.”
McConnell, after voting this month to acquit Trump of inciting an insurrection, said on the Senate floor, “Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty.” Trump responded with a lengthy statement slamming McConnell as a “dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack.” McConnell did tell Fox News on Thursday that he would support Trump if he is the GOP presidential nominee in 2024.
Scott has said he supports McConnell as his party’s leader in the Senate and he also spoke last week with Trump about winning Senate races in 2022. Republicans need a net gain of just one seat to take control of the Senate.
Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates four Democrat-held Senate seats and four Republican-held seats as competitive. Two of the GOP-held seats are also open contests, with North Carolina Sen. Richard M. Burr and Pennsylvania Sen. Patrick J. Toomey both retiring. Both Burr and Toomey voted to impeach Trump.
Just one GOP senator running for reelection in 2022, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, voted to impeach Trump. The former president has vowed to campaign against Murkowski, and he has also called on a Republican to launch a primary challenge against South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the no. 2 Republican in the chamber, who has also criticized Trump.
Scott told The Wall Street Journal ahead of his speech at CPAC that he did not ask Trump to stay out of primaries against sitting Senate Republicans. Scott has said the NRSC would support incumbents who face such challenges, however.
Trump will make his first speech after leaving office at CPAC on Sunday.