Sen. Rick Scott, who objected to the official Electoral College vote count on Jan. 6, was unambiguous in his assessment of the 2020 presidential election on Sunday, acknowledging that President Joe Biden was the legitimate victor.
Saying the issue had become a “kind of a loyalty oath for the Trump party,” Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked Scott directly: “Did Joe Biden win this election fair and square?”
“Absolutely,” Scott told the “Fox News Sunday” host. “Joe Biden is the president. We went through the constitutional process. Joe Biden won the election.”
The Florida Republican’s comments come during the Conservative Political Action Conference, the primetime annual event of the conservative movement. Former President Donald Trump is expected to air grievances about the 2020 election and the Biden administration during his speech at the convention Sunday evening.
Despite Sunday’s admission that Biden won fairly, Scott, like most Republican lawmakers, still said that claims of widespread voter fraud should be appreciated as legitimate grievances.
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“Are there people that believe we’ve got to focus on making sure people feel comfortable their elections are fair? Yeah,” Scott noted. The senator, however, also argued that people’s right to vote should not be unnecessarily limited.
“We should create a process where people get to vote but make sure no vote is ever diluted,” Scott argued.
The senators’ comments come as Republican-controlled legislatures around the country, including in Scott’s own Sunshine State, are deliberating on an array of bills ostensibly meant to combat voter fraud. Critics claim the bills will lead to voter disenfranchisement.
Scott was also one of seven senators to vote against the certification of the election results in Pennsylvania, a move he later explained was because he believed the election process in the state posed “a serious threat to the integrity of future elections.”
Polls have found that a plurality of Republican voters believe there was some kind of serious fraud in the election, a claim that has been investigated and debunked by law enforcement, courts and news media.
Scott is not alone in contradicting that narrative; a handful of Republican lawmakers in Washington have forcefully pushed back on conspiracy theories within the party, especially after a deadly insurrection at the Capitol was largely stoked by anger over such claims.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., lamented that Trump, who has perpetuated claims of mass voter fraud for years, plays such a centralized role in the party. Arguing during a CNN interview Saturday that “Nebraskans don’t think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude.”
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Others in the party, including Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. – one of the Republican senators who voted to impeach the president over the insurrection – poured cold water on the idea that Trump might be the party’s 2024 standard-bearer again.
“That’s a theoretical that I don’t think will come to pass,” the senator said, also noting that “political campaigns are about winning.”
But Republican voters by a 2-1 margin want to see Trump run again in 2024, and most say they have a personal loyalty to the president.
Addressing the overwhelmingly pro-Trump crowd at CPAC Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, derided the former president’s opponents and said they are “terrified” by the “millions of millions of people inspired” by him.
“And they want him to go away. Let me tell you this right now, Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere,” Cruz said.
When asked Sunday if the Republican Party was still Trump’s party, Scott replied, “It’s the voter’s party.”
Scott, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said he spoke to Trump a week ago and that the former president had committed to help GOP candidates win Senate races across the country in next year’s midterm elections.
“I believe he’s going to be helpful,” Scott said. “But I think other Republicans are going to be helpful,” he added.
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