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GOP's Senate campaign chief will not back down from the party fight

Rick Scott enjoys thinking of himself as Gen. Ulysses S. Grant during Civil War.

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GOP's Senate campaign chief will not back down from the party fight

The Florida Republican is barely halfway through his first Senate term. He's already fighting against his party's leadership, as he negotiates a delicate alliance with former President Donald Trump and pushes an agenda of policies that many Republicans oppose.

Scott, the Senate GOP's chief midterm leader, insists that he has just begun to fight.

Former businessman, 69 years old, likens his current situation to Grant's at the Battle of Vicksburg. Grant ordered several bloody assaults on the Southern strongholds before delivering a victory that turned the tide in favor of the Union.

Scott stated in an interview that he thinks of himself more as Grant taking Vicksburg and that he is perceived as an outsider because of this. "I will continue to believe what I believe, regardless of whether everyone agrees with my views."

Scott's belief is at odds with the Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

Scott refuses to abandon an 11 point governing plan that he published with very little input from party leaders, even after McConnell’s public rebuke a month ago. Scott has promoted his plan to raise taxes on millions more Americans, even though McConnell's public rebuke one month ago, in numerous speeches and media appearances.

Scott's close friends suggest that he knows the modern Republican Party better then McConnell or his establishment allies. As tension continues, Scott is open to the possibility of challenging McConnell as Senate majority leader if Republicans retake the Senate majority. However, the chances of him succeeding in this endeavor are slim. Scott is more likely to run for the presidency in 2024, according to most people who know him well.

McConnell's office declined comment.

Scott's remarkable rise from a Florida businessman with a rigid demeanor to a governor and senator willing to challenge his party's leadership is a reminder that national politics has lost its traditional rules. Few outside Mar-a-Lago think Scott could challenge McConnell's leadership position. Scott is also an afterthought in the early 2024 presidential chatter which is dominated Ron DeSantis.

Allies say it would be wrong to dismiss him as a serious player in politics.

Curt Anderson, a political consultant who has been advising Scott for over ten years, called McConnell's interest in McConnell 'pretty low', although Trump privately encouraged Scott to challenge him. Anderson replied that he would not comment on a possible presidential run.

Scott has won every race that he has run. He is also the richest member in Congress, with a net worth of $232 million, which he had before his last election. In his position as chairman of The National Republican Senatorial Committee, he has greatly expanded his donor base over the past year.

Scott spent over $63 million of his own funds to win the 2018 Florida Senate election.

His political influence is expanding.

Scott, as chairman of the Senate GOP’s campaign arm is responsible for the party's efforts to regain the Senate majority. Scott is responsible for leading the Republican Senate strategy. This includes how to best distribute tens of million of dollars to key races throughout the country.

Even though Republican Senate candidates are privately concerned that Scott's policy agenda gives Democrats a powerful talking point to use against their election, Many GOP campaigns have approached Scott's committee to express their concerns to McConnell's staff, but Scott has not relented to pressure to back down.

Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee Chair, said that Scott was "the ultimate team player" and works "hand-in-glove" with other major campaign committees.

McDaniel's praises ended when McDaniel spoke of his governing agenda, and the provision which would increase taxes.

McDaniel stated, "I'm no policymaker." She was asked directly if she supported Scott's plan. McDaniel noted that House Republicans are currently working on another policy rollout. "I know our voters are very focused on our plans if government is implemented. We must win to accomplish anything.

Washington Republicans are split over whether they need a governing plan.

Trump's 2020 presidential nominating party, the Republican Party did not adopt a platform. Many Republican strategists believe that the GOP can win both the House and Senate majorities this fall, even without defining policy goals. This is despite Democratic President Joe Biden’s weak political standing and other political headwinds against him.

McConnell answered reporters earlier this year when they were asked what the GOP's agenda would look like if it won control of Congress.

McConnell doesn't like being challenged. Since 2007, McConnell has been elected Senate Republican Leader by acclamation, with only one token challenger. His team doesn't expect anyone to challenge him after the midterm elections. He has publicly stated his intention to keep his leadership position.

Trump is calling for McConnell's expulsion from afar. Scott and House Republican leaders challenge McConnell's wisdom.

House Republicans created their "Commitment to America” agenda at last week's annual retreat in Jacksonville. Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader, was asked by reporters about his decision to introduce an agenda after McConnell resisted.

"I believe elections are important. McCarthy said that he believes it is more important than running against another party to inform the American people what you will do.

Scott, more than any Senate Republican, has developed relationships with top House conservatives, such as Jim Banks (R-Ind), Chairman of the Republican Study Committee. Banks stated that Scott often sends thank-you notes to people after private meetings. His "impressive personal touch" is not always in line with his stiff exterior.

Banks called Scott's plan "a brave plan" that gives party members "a good framework to follow." However, like other leading Republicans, he did not endorse Scott's tax provision.

"I don’t know if I support it or not." Banks stated that he didn't know all the details. "But Sen. Scott has acknowledged that this is his draft. It was his attempt to create a framework for the GOP agenda. He is credited for this."

Scott's plan for "Rescue America” includes 11 broad policy goals. Most of them are focused on conservative movements' cultural priorities.

He would make public schools stand for the national song; stop the federal government asking people to reveal their race, skin color, or gender preference; close Trump's border wall; ban biological males from participating in women's sport.

Critics are grabbing onto specific provisions regarding federal legislation and taxes.

Scott proposes a minimum federal tax for the tens of million Americans who do not have enough income to pay federal income taxes. Another provision would end federal legislation five-years after it was passed. This would be criticized by some as it would threaten Medicare and Social Security, but Scott insists that this is not his intention.

Indiana Senator Mike Braun admitted that some members of the Senate GOP caucus were unhappy about the plan. However, he stated that he is confident in Scott’s political leadership and even supported the 11-point plan.

Braun stated that Republicans are still in a strong position going into the November midterms, because Democrats' mistakes "served up an opportunity."

Braun stated, "I would say to take advantage of it, but also stake out that gives independents who elected swing-state senators and president something else than the party of ‘No.'"

Scott's plan not only divided his Capitol Hill caucus, but also split some of Washington's most powerful conservative institutions.

Grover Norquist is the president of Americans for Tax Reform. He dismissed Scott's plan because it was "an unserious presentation" and would result in a "significant tax increase."

Norquist objected to Scott's proposal not being reviewed by the wider conservative movement. He said, "This was not run through anybody." "Not happening."

Kevin Roberts, president at the Heritage Foundation, was a fan of Scott's agenda, which included the tax component. Scott will highlight his proposal at the foundation's Thursday speech. The foundation also plans to release its policy goals.

Roberts stated that Scott's fierce opposition to Scott's plan highlights a wider debate within the GOP.

Roberts stated that "this is not an honest discussion about taxation policy." "It's about establishment self-appointed ruling Elites -- I mean generally -- inside and out of the Capitol telling a great senator who's working for his constituents that it's just not their plan. He needs to stop talking."

As Republicans battle each other, Scott's plan has been used by the Democratic National Committee as a weapon against Republicans since its release.

Last week, the DNC released another round of digital ads that called on voters to "stop Senate Republicans’ new plan to increase taxes on 50% Americans."

Jaime Harrison, DNC chairman, stated that Rick Scott had written it down. "Every Republican lawmaker must answer it, and it's certain that we'll remind the American people every chance we get."

Scott is just beginning to make a mark on national politics, according to those who have seen Scott's rise in the political arena.

Ex-Florida Attorney general Bill McCollum who ran unsuccessfully against Scott in the Republican primary for governor in 2010 said that he would not underestimate Scott's potential as the next Senate majority leader and the next president.

"I believe he has always been ambitious to become president of the United States. McCollum stated that he has always been ambitious to be president of the United States. McCollum stated that his real ambition was to reach Washington. This was his true ambition. His true ambition is to become the chief executive officer of the country.


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