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Florida Senator Rick Scott on future of Republican party

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Senator Rick Scott joined "CBS This Morning" to discuss the future of the Republican Party amid an apparent divide, and how he plans to flip the Senate in 2022.

Video Transcript

TONY DOKOUPIL: In his first political speech since leaving the White House, former President Donald Trump is reasserting his grip on the Republican Party. Mr. Trump closed out the annual conservative meeting known as CPAC last night in Orlando. He repeated the false claim that the presidential election was stolen from him, and he offered no remorse for the assault on the capital by his supporters. He stopped short of announcing a 2024 run, but strongly hinted that he's not done with politics.

DONALD TRUMP: We will take back the House, we will win the Senate, and then a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House. Who, who, who will that be, I wonder?

TONY DOKOUPIL: Well that former Republican president also attacked, by name, other Republicans who have denounced him and who voted to impeach or convict him. Republican Senator Rick Scott is a former governor of Florida. He's chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which supports GOP Senate candidates.

Senator, good morning. Thank you for being with us. We appreciate it. As Tony just mentioned--

RICK SCOTT: Good morning.

ANTHONY MASON: Good morning. The former president, again, falsely claimed that he won the election. You have said you accept the pres-- you accept the presidential election results. How does the Republican Party move forward if you're still arguing about the election results?

RICK SCOTT: Sure. First I want to thank J&J. I think it's great that we're getting another vaccine out. And hopefully everybody can get their vaccine as quickly as possible, and we get back-- everybody get back to school and get this economy going again.

You know, I had the opportunity to go to CPAC last week, and I put a memo out last week to Republican activists, donors, party leaders, about this Republican civil war has been canceled. We are not going to look backwards. We are going to go forward. We know that there's a lot of things the Biden administration is doing that Americans-- Republican, Democrat, and independent-- don't believe in.

We don't believe in open borders. We don't believe in closed schools. We don't believe in men winning women's sports. So we're going to focus on the fac-- we're going to focus on the issues and going forward.

We're going to have-- I think we're going to have a great '22. We're going to bring everybody together. The Republicans are going to take the House, the Senate, and I believe the former president's right. We're going to win the White House in '24.

ANTHONY MASON: You say, Senator, the Republican civil war has been canceled. But Vice President Mike Pence, Congressman Liz Cheney were noticeably absent from CPAC. The president directly attacked Republicans who voted against him in the impeachment trials-- in the impeachment trial. How do you have a unified party? How is the civil war canceled if that is going on in public?

RICK SCOTT: Well here's the way the party works. Get out of Washington. The farther you get away from Washington, the more united the Republicans are.

And what Biden-- and Biden is our unifier. Pelosi and Schumer-- I mean, this idea that we're going to open our borders. We're going-- we're going to appease dictators. We're going to go back to the old way we did business with China. You know, these-- killing the Keystone Pipeline-- that is unifying Republicans around the country.

Look, what's going on in Washington is not what's going on around in the country. What's going on around the country, as people say, I want my job. I want my kids back in school. I want to fund the law enforcement. I want a safe community. I want a strong military. I want a country that stands up to dictators.

That's what-- and that's what the Republican Party is going to do and the Democrats are doing the opposite.

TONY DOKOUPIL: Yeah. Senator, you're right that Washington is a different animal than the rest of the country. But those senators and members of Congress who are calling out the president, they're representing, or trying to represent, what they think the viewpoint is in their states.

So I want to get one more question here on the divide that we're seeing. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader until this past election, has called President Trump morally and practically responsible for the assault on the capital. Former President Trump, for his part, calls Mitch McConnell a political hack. That seems like an untenable situation for Republicans. How do you go forward?

RICK SCOTT: We-- talk to the people out in Florida. Go around Florida. They're not talking about what these party leaders are saying. What they're talking about is, what's good for my family? They're talking about issues.

When I ran for governor, I talked about the issues. That's how I won. That's how we're going to win in '22. We're going to talk about the things that people care about-- jobs, education, law enforcement. You know, that's what they care about. They're not-- they don't-- they're not talking about what party leaders are-- anything they're saying about each other.

That's why the civil war is absolutely canceled. We're going-- we're not going backwards. We're going to go forward and win in '22.

ANTHONY MASON: To your point, Senator, one of the things that people are worried about is getting some relief from the coronavirus. The Democrats are pushing a COVID relief bill that you oppose. You say it's too big. Isn't it just important to get relief out to people as quickly as possible?

RICK SCOTT: Well look, this is somebody's money. We need to do the right thing. So let's help people that lost their job. Let's help the businesses that are struggling. But less than 1% of this is about the vaccine.

I mean, what do we-- what'd we start-- what you all talk about all morning is that Johnson & Johnson-- less than 1% of this bill is about the vaccine. It's about a bridge for Chuck Schumer, a tunnel for Nancy Pelosi. I mean this is about-- this is about paying back liberal politicians. It's not about getting our country back to normal again.

Let's focus on the vaccine. Let's focus on testing. Let's focus on helping people that lost their job. Let's focus on getting our businesses going again. That's not what this bill does. So it's really disappointing.

And it's not part-- it's very partisan. It's not a bipartisan bill. It's not-- they didn't come the Republicans say, let's work together. Every bill we did last year-- we allocated $4.5 trillion--

TONY DOKOUPIL: Senator?

RICK SCOTT: --was bipartisan. There's still a trillion dollars we haven't spent.

TONY DOKOUPIL: Yeah. Senator, I hear that as a as a point of political messaging. I think the Democrats are aware that it would appear that you guys are holding up something that, as you point out, is not all about those unemployed Americans, but would help about 10 million unemployed Americans. So what do you do politically here to-- what would you say to them this morning about why you're saying no when this could help them?

RICK SCOTT: Come talk to us. We want to help people. But we're not going to go waste Americans' money. We have $27 trillion worth of debt. You see interest rates are going up. Inflation's coming back. It's caused because of government spending.

So let's do the right thing for the American public. Let's help people that have lost their job. Let's help our small businesses. Let's make sure we have vaccines. Let's make sure we have testing. But wasting Americans' money when you know somebody's going to have to pay that back-- you will, your kids, or your grandkids. That doesn't make any money. That's not the way Washington should work.

ANTHONY MASON: All right. Senator Rick Scott, thank you very much for being with us this morning. We appreciate it.