Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Sunday failed to condemn former President Donald Trump’s violent rhetoric targeting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his racist insult of McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao.
Trump on Friday criticized the Kentucky Republican for supporting Democratic-sponsored legislation, saying “he has a DEATH WISH.” In the same post on his social media platform, Trump ripped Chao, who was his transportation secretary, saying McConnell “must immediately seek help and advice from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!”
Chao resigned from Trump’s administration following the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Scott, asked about Trump’s remarks on CNN’s “State of the Union” from an emergency operations center in Naples, Florida, said he “can never talk about and respond to why anybody else says what they said.”
“As you know, the president likes to give people nicknames. So you can ask him how he came up with a nickname. I’m sure he has a nickname for me,” said Scott, who heads Senate Republicans’ campaign arm. “But here’s what I know. We got to watch how we spend our money.”
He continued: “And I don’t condone violence. And I hope any ― no one else condones violence.”
While Trump did not directly say what legislation he was referring to, McConnell last week voted in favor of a stopgap spending bill that included funding for Ukraine as well as money for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to respond to Hurricane Ian and future disasters. Scott did not support the bill.
CNN’s Dana Bash pressed Scott about Trump’s racist language.
“It’s never, ever OK to be a racist. It’s — look, I think you always have to be careful if you’re in the public eye how you — how you say things. You want to make sure you’re inclusive,” Scott said.
Scott continued: “So I hope no one is racist. I hope no one says anything that’s inappropriate.”
Scott, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has spatted with McConnell over the GOP’s prospects of retaking the Senate.
McConnell cited candidate quality as a factor in whether the Republicans would be able to win control of the chamber. Scott seemed to take issue with McConnell’s comments in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner last month.
“If you want to trash-talk our candidates to help the Democrats, pipe down,” Scott wrote. “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.”