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Sunday, April 18, 2021

With Trump Visiting, Florida Republicans Vow to Keep Up War of Words

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President Donald Trump and vice president Mike Pence walk with Rick Scott, incoming governor of Florida, as they arrive to deliver remarks at the Florida Policy Institute, in Tallahassee, Fla., on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — In a new sign of how far the Trump White House is willing to go to crush any and all competition, the president used his first event in Florida on Monday night to chastise Republican governor Rick Scott, who is running for Senate.

Trump also mused that if he ever meets Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, he will tell her to take her globetrotting campaign for president “to Brooklyn.” It was a provocative choice of words that sought to score some cheap political points by associating Warren with New York.

Trump is looking for a positive kick-start to his reelection campaign after a somber speech about the Las Vegas shooting, even as polls show his popularity lagging with voters.

Both are leading candidates for the Republican nomination in 2020.

Trump was campaigning for Scott, who needs a win in the general election to secure his spot on the short list of Republican candidates for president. But Scott’s success in the general election is far from assured, especially after Trump attacked him Monday night at an event in Florida.

“Thank you Rick Scott for getting a wonderful endorsement from President Trump,” Trump said to cheers from a rally at Coral Springs High School. “Without the endorsement of President Trump we’d never have the race that Rick Scott is running, would we?”

Trump has faced criticism for frequently airing grievances about rivals while campaigning at events in his home state. Asked in April how many campaigns he has done where he has attacked a rival, he said, “Number one? Two? No?”

He has similarly targeted Republican Senate candidates Ron DeSantis and Matt Gaetz at campaign events this year. Trump was far more restrained, though not without his share of attacks.

“Look, we’ve got a guy we just put in there as a senator from Florida who’s a Democrat. Who supported Ted Cruz, and he supported her?” Trump asked the audience, referring to Scott’s former Democratic Senate rival, Sen. Bill Nelson. “He’s a Democrat, and he supported her. And he’s in a race against Rick Scott. … And to the people of Florida and to Rick Scott, you’re going to get a real honest politician, we’re going to bring back your factory jobs, we’re going to bring back your jobs — we have your back, Rick Scott.”

This column represents the opinion of one member of the Roll Call editorial board.

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