Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said Sunday that “it’s never ever OK to be a racist” when asked about former President Donald Trump’s personal attack on Elaine Chao, his onetime Transportation secretary. Scott offered a measured response to Trump’s mocking of a notable Asian American in the GOP.
Trump, in a Friday night post on his social media platform Truth Social, directly ridiculed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Chao, the Kentucky Republican’s spouse, referring to her as the senator’s “China loving wife, Coco Chow!”
“It’s never, ever OK to be a racist,” Scott told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” when asked whether Trump’s comments were acceptable. “I think you always have to be careful, you know, if you’re in the public eye … how you say things. You want to make sure you’re inclusive.”
“I hope no one is racist,” the Florida senator added. “I hope no one says anything that’s inappropriate.”
In his Truth Social post last week, Trump said McConnell had a “death wish” for supporting “Democrat sponsored bills,” something Scott avoided criticizing when asked by Bash if he was OK with it, though he later added, “I don’t condone violence.”
“I think, you know, what the President is saying is, ‘You know, there’s been a lot of money spent over the last two years. We’ve got to make sure we don’t keep caving to Democrats. It’s causing an unbelievable inflation and causing more and more debt.’”
It was not clear what bills Trump was criticizing on Friday, or what he meant as he accused McConnell of believing in the Green New Deal, a package of progressive proposals that McConnell blocked from coming to the Senate floor for a vote when he was majority leader.
Scott, who chairs Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, saw his own disagreement with McConnell spill into the public over the summer.
“Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome,” McConnell said in August, before later describing the GOP’s chances of flipping the Senate as a “50/50 proposition.”
Scott responded in an op-ed without mentioning the Kentucky Republican by name, writing, “If you want to trash-talk our candidates to help Democrats, pipe down.” (Scott denied last month that his op-ed was directed at McConnell.)
CNN’s Eric Bradner, Manu Raju, Alex Rogers and Simone Pathe contributed to this report.