Up early with Rick Scott, the GOP's Senate campaign chief

Florida Sen. Rick Scott sat down with reporters at a Monitor Breakfast, where we talked Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, and how in America, ‘you can be anything.’

Michael Bonfigli/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Florida Senator Rick Scott speaks at the St. Regis Hotel on June 22, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Mr. Scott was there to talk to reporters as part of The Christian Science Monitor's longstanding breakfast series.

Sen. Rick Scott is known as an “early to bed, early to rise” kind of guy. He’s up between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m., and then works out, according to his staff. So when we lined up a Monitor Breakfast for June 22 with the Florida Republican, chair of his party’s Senate campaign committee, the request to start extra early – 7:30 a.m. – came as no surprise.

I’ll admit I was a bit nervous. Would journalists, famous for keeping late hours, be ready that early to grill Senator Scott on his plan for a GOP takeover of the Senate in the November midterms? Turns out there was nothing to worry about. A few reporters even arrived early, as did Mr. Scott – of course!

Soon enough, the larger picture became clear. At the top, Mr. Scott spoke of being born to a single mom in public housing, and how she told him, “Thank God you live in the United States of America, because you can be anything. And I believed her.”

The senator described service in the Navy – swabbing decks, cleaning latrines – and then a career in business, beginning with a donut shop, and eventually as CEO of a major hospital chain. The theme of hard work, and rejecting government assistance, came up over and over.

“My mom would never, ever have allowed us to say, ‘Oh, let me see if there’s another government program I can go on rather than go and get a job,’” Mr. Scott said.

My article on the breakfast covered the senator’s emphasis on work, after recasting his controversial proposal that even the poorest Americans pay income tax. Mr. Scott also made headlines when he declined to endorse Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell for majority leader, if the party does take over the chamber.

And he spoke of his relationship with another “Florida man,” former President Donald Trump. They talk “every two to three weeks,” Mr. Scott said. He has no idea if Mr. Trump will run for president again – “he doesn’t ask me” – but, the senator adds, “you have to assume he’s going to run.”

The C-SPAN video of the breakfast can be viewed here.

At the stroke of 8:30 a.m., as promised, our breakfast ended, and Mr. Scott was on his way to his next appointment – no doubt early. Because, as the saying goes, “If you’re early, you’re on time, and if you’re on time, you’re late.”

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