early and often

Rick Scott Wants Mitch McConnell to Be ‘Cheerleader’ for Bad Candidates

Rick Scott’s sniping at Mitch McConnell is now going beyond just his habitual MAGA toadying. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

You’d think Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Senate Campaign Committee chairman Rick Scott could stay on the same page during the 2022 midterm-election cycle, as it will determine whether they get control of the upper chamber. But it’s been a struggle. Earlier this year, Scott defied McConnell’s instructions to avoid any divisive party litmus tests and put out an ultra-MAGA “11-point Plan to Rescue America” that Democrats greeted with great joy. It was so out there that McConnell felt he had to publicly repudiate it, and Scott went to the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal to complain about “beltway cowardice.” It wasn’t a good look.

Now they’re at it again. McConnell made a relatively innocuous comment a few weeks ago that has festered like a wound in MAGA-land. “I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” he said. “Senate races are just different — they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”

This was taken by Donald Trump (probably rightly) as a swipe at the strange Senate candidates he foisted on the GOP via his endorsements. So the 45th president once again vented his spleen at McConnell in a series of nasty, borderline racist comments about the Kentuckian and his “crazy wife” Elaine Chao (Trump’s former secretary of Transportation), whom he called “Coco.” And now Scott is joining in, as Politico reports:

“Sen. McConnell and I clearly have a strategic disagreement here … We have great candidates,” the National Republican Senatorial Committee chair said in an interview Wednesday. “He wants to do the same thing I want to do: I want to get a majority. And I think it’s important that we’re all cheerleaders for our candidates.”

Now, let’s be clear about this. McConnell did not call out individual candidates. He did not say he was troubled by the proto-fascist Blake Masters, or the tongue-tied and troubled Herschel Walker, or the inept fundraiser J.D. Vance, or the crudités-chomping Mehmet Oz. Indeed, McConnell is raising money for all these people. He is obviously making sure that if Republicans fall short in November, he doesn’t get the blame. And you can’t fault him for that.

Scott apparently sees a future president of the United States in the bathroom mirror each day, and is presumably kissing the posterior of his constituent in Mar-a-Lago. But the “cheerleader” comment reflects a misunderstanding that is not unique to Scott: the idea that any sort of political realism by politicians and their allies is unacceptable because it affects “team” morale and voter “enthusiasm.”

Frankly, any “enthusiasm” beyond what is necessary to get a voter to the polls or drag money out of her pocketbook is wasted. When you go to vote, election workers do not take your temperature and award you extra votes if you are especially psyched about your candidates. But all the hype and spin and pure lying that people justify in the name of “enthusiasm” does some real damage to an already fragile system of fact-based accountability in politics.

I don’t get the sense that Rick Scott cares about any of that, but it’s important to call out the BS in the name of objective reality. The survival of democracy depends on it, even if that means defending Mitch McConnell when he hints at unpleasant or inconvenient truths.

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Scott Wants McConnell to Be ‘Cheerleader’ for Bad Candidates