The following is a transcript of an interview with GOP Sen. Rick Scott of Florida that aired Sunday, May 22, 2022, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Florida Senator Rick Scott. He’s the Republican tasked with winning the Senate majority for the GOP in this year’s midterm elections. And he joins us from Naples, Florida. Good morning to you, Senator.
SENATOR RICK SCOTT: Good morning, Margaret. I think those numbers are consistent with what we’ve seen, that inflation is still the number one issue in the country and the president is slow to react, whether it’s the border, whether it’s inflation, whether it’s gas prices, even Ukraine. I think the expectation is that whoever the president is gets ahead of the problems rather than behind the problem. So I think the election this fall is going to be about inflation. It’s going to be about the effectiveness of the Biden administration. And I think it bodes well for Republicans.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, why do you think that? Because you just heard our poll, which shows Republicans don’t really have much of an advantage on that specific issue. 51% of those polled trust the GOP on inflation, 49% trust Democrats. How do you advise Republicans to change that?
SEN. SCOTT: Well, I think it’s important that, you know, we talk about what we’re going to do. And we- you know, we explain the problem that the Biden administration has, that they don’t react to, you know, record gas prices and open border, things like this. But also, we tell people what we’re going to do to bring down inflation. We’re going to balance the budget. We’re going to start watching the dollars very closely. We’re going to watch our spending. We are going to, you know, expect the Federal Reserve to reduce their balance sheet. So, I think we have to talk about the things that we’re going to do to make it better for people. But if you go and look at the races around the country, Biden’s numbers are really, really bad. And he’s- he is the face of the Democrat Party right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But so then if- if you want your candidates to be- Republican candidates to be talking about inflation, is it a waste of time for so many of them to talk about relitigating the 2020 election?
SEN. SCOTT: You know what I’ve seen, Margaret, is people want to know that the election’s going to be fair and their votes are not going to be diluted. So, I- when I- as I go around the country and talk to people, what they’re hoping is that Republicans will make sure that, you know- you know, there’s voter I.D., there’s no ballot harvesting, signatures have to match. And- and that’s what when I talk to people, that’s what they care about. There’s–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –So you don’t want them to talk about 2020, you want- sorry. Go ahead. I’m sorry.
SEN. SCOTT: No, Margaret, there’s- there is clearly people that are still concerned about what happened in 2020, and they would like the facts to come out. And they- and they want to know what happened, why it happened–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –What do you mean by that?
SEN. SCOTT: Well, they want to know- they want to know that exactly what happened- if, you know, were there problems? Exactly what happened? They’d like to know that. But also, they’re- you know, they also want to make sure we win in ’22. So, you know, they- they want to make sure that, you know, we’re going to make sure their vote’s not diluted. So I think you have to- you have to talk about, you know, making sure people understand what happened in 2020, but also make sure, you know, they know that you’re going to focus on making sure that 2022 is a- you know, is a fair election.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Just to be abundantly clear, you have recognized President Biden is the duly elected president of the United States, correct?
SEN. SCOTT: Absolutely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. So, let’s just move on from there.
SEN. SCOTT: The–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –So, in terms of the things you think Republicans should be talking about and inflation, you put forward this 11-point plan. One of the things you’re suggesting is to end all imports from China. Is that going to add to price inflation?
SEN. SCOTT: Well, I think what we’ve got to do is we’ve got- we’ve got to figure out how to decouple from China, and it’s going to take a while to do that. But if you look at what they want to do, they’re sending fentanyl in this country. We had over 100,000 people die of drug overdose last year. They never comply with any trade agreements, they’ve never complied with the World Trade, you know, association. So, you know,- Organization. So, what we’ve got to do is we got to start building American jobs. We’ve got to get American manufacturing back. And when we do that one, our wages will go up–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –Okay–
SEN. SCOTT: –We’ll have more jobs in this country and we- and people want to buy American products and there’s other countries to do business with.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Sure. Okay. So, it’s a long term goal that’s not actually banning Chinese imports now. Let me ask you about something else you talk about. The Institute on Taxation Economic Policy says your plan you put forward would increase taxes by more than $1,000, on average, for the poorest 40% of Americans. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said this.
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, if your fellow Republicans don’t support this alternative you’re putting forward, who does?
SEN. SCOTT: Well, first off, it’s Rick Scott’s plan. I believe we ought to have a plan for how we go forward. I’m a business guy. I created plans when I- in my business life. I created plans when I was governor. But here’s how- here’s the way I look at it. My mom told me I had to have skin in the game. And what she meant by that is I had to get to work and participate in the American dream. When you get a job, you pay payroll taxes, you pay income taxes, you buy things, you pay sales tax, you buy a house, you pay property taxes. We have very low labor participation right now. I want people back to work. And with regard to Medicare and Social Security, think about this. We have got to be honest with the American people and come up with solutions. Medicare goes bankrupt in four years, Social Security goes bankrupt in 12 years. We’re not talking about that. I want to- I want to fix those programs. I believe in those programs and people rely on those programs.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You want Congress to review them every single- every five years–
SEN. SCOTT: –Joe Biden has proposed cutting those. Well, we- think about it, we do the military every year. We ought to you know, we ought to be- look at it. I mean, people expect us. It’s our job. If you get elected, it’s your job to go through and figure out how you fix things. That’s our job. We do the military every year and we fight over what we should do to make sure we’re the most lethal military. We ought to be honest with the American people. Here’s the things we’re going to do to make sure you get your Medicare, make sure you get your Social Security. So I will never raise a tax. I cut taxes more than 100 times, but I’m going to make sure we fix and make sure these Medicare- Medicare programs and Social Security work.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. As you know, there’s concern that in- given the opportunity to review it, that you could put some of those programs at risk. But I want to move on to have you respond to something else that was in our polling that I think is important to have you comment on. Do you personally think it’s important for political leaders, particularly in your party, to condemn white nationalism? Because according to our poll, 75% of Democrats say it is very important. Only 23% of Republicans say it’s very important. Why do you think there is such a gap?
SEN. SCOTT: Well, clearly, we ought to all condemn any hatred. We ought to condemn any white supremacy. We- mean we’ve got to figure out how to come together. I- I believe we got to stop all this racial politics and what the plan I put out at Rescue America.com I said, we have to stop asking people on government forms for their skin color. We ought to judge people by their character, not, you know, not their skin color. So, we’ve got to figure out how to bring people together.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you would tell all Senate Republicans running for election that they need to, each and every one of them, condemn white nationalism?
SEN. SCOTT: Well, I tell people what I believe. And, you know, every- every Senate candidate on both sides is going to decide what is important to them, and what is important to the citizens of their state–
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you would advise them- you think–
SEN. SCOTT: –But I can tell you I’m clear.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, the answer is yes?
SEN. SCOTT: Oh, if they asked me, I would say be clear. Be clear. I mean, we do not believe- none of us- I don’t think any American should believe in white supremacy or hatred of any kind. I mean, it’s wrong.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Scott, thank you for joining us today. And FACE THE NATION be back in a minute with New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. So stay with us.