Rick Scott is a longtime ally of Donald Trump. But he hasn't endorsed him.
He gave him an award. But he's not endorsing him.
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott said Tuesday that he his "focused on his race" in explaining why he has not endorsed former President Donald Trump in his campaign for a 2024 White House comeback.
In an interview with The Palm Beach Post, Scott lauded Trump's achievements during his single-term in the Oval Office and suggested the country would be better off if the 2020 election had turned out differently.
"I've been clear that I think there's a lot of things that President Trump has done well," Scott said. "If you look at our border crisis, if you look at the inflation, if you look at the appeasement of dictators around the world, we wouldn't be in this position if President Trump was president."
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But Scott, who last month said he would seek a second term in the chamber next year, did not endorse Trump, who wants to be on the Florida ballot along with Scott in November of next year.
"I've been clear," Scott said. "I tell people that, you know by what I believe in and I'm focused on my race."
An op-ed. An award. Mutual support during campaigns. Scott and Trump have been political soulmates.
Scott has been one of Trump's most vocal supporters and steadfast political allies.
Seven years ago, then-Gov. Scott complimented Trump by writing in a USA TODAY op-ed that Trump was "capturing the frustration of many Americans after seven years of President Obama’s very intentional government takeover of the U.S. economy."
That column in January 2016 stunned Florida's political establishment ahead of that year's GOP presidential primaries precisely because two fellow Florida favorites, former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, were rivaling Trump for the Republican nomination.
Two years later, it was Trump who urged Scott to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in the 2018 midterm election. With Trump's support, Scott narrowly won the seat.
In April 2021, just months after the Jan. 6 violence at the U.S. Capitol and Trump's second impeachment, Scott traveled to Mar-a-Lago to present Trump with an award.
This weekend I was proud to recognize President Donald Trump with the inaugural @NRSC Champion for Freedom Award.
President Trump fought for American workers, secured the border, and protected our constitutional rights. https://t.co/4jjy88FRVr pic.twitter.com/A9I2sATdkn
— Rick Scott (@ScottforFlorida) April 12, 2021
During the 2022 midterm election, Scott supported the polarizing, 2020 election-denying U.S. Senate candidates Trump chose in key battleground states, like Georgia and Pennsylvania.
Scott's defense of those candidates put Florida's junior senator at odds with the Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The electorate's rejection of those candidates last November is the major reason the effort to gain a GOP Senate majority, which was entrusted to Scott, failed.
Scott, prodded by Trump, then ended up on the losing end of an unsuccessful bid to unseat McConnell as the party's leader in the Senate.
Despite all that history, Scott said he is focused on running for the U.S. Senate when asked twice if he was endorsing Trump.
Stephany Matat is a politics reporter for The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY-Florida network. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism: Subscribe today.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Rick Scott has not endorsed Trump, says he is focused on Senate campaign