Sen. Rick Scott: Some GOP leaders ‘caving in’ to Democrats

Sen. J.D. Vance., R-Ohio, speaks as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, listens during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday at National Harbor, Md. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Sen. J.D. Vance., R-Ohio, speaks as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, listens in the course of the annual Conservative Political Motion Convention Thursday at Nationwide Harbor, Md. (Alex Wong/Getty Pictures)

Posted March 2, 2023 at 6:56pm

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — “Make America Nice” baseball caps had been plentiful and calls to question Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas drew vigorous applause. 

However whereas the viewers on the Conservative Political Motion Convention was united in its contempt for President Joe Biden and different Democrats on Thursday, the annual occasion additionally showcased the rifts throughout the Republican Get together. Florida Sen. Rick Scott, for instance, denounced colleagues within the “institution” for capitulating to Democrats.

There was little speak of the GOP’s efficiency within the 2022 midterms, when the celebration took management of the Home however solely by a nine-seat pickup, which underperformed expectations. 

Crowds had been noticeably smaller: Rows of empty seats lined the again of the cavernous predominant ballroom as audio system akin to Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville and CPAC Chairman Matt Schlapp spoke. A number of probably presidential contenders, together with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence, opted to skip the four-day gathering, which started Wednesday.

Two different presidential candidates, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and entrepreneur and activist Vivek Ramaswamy, are slated to talk Friday, whereas former President Donald Trump is to be the closing speaker Saturday.

Lackluster attendance was blamed on plenty of elements, together with a sexual assault allegation introduced towards Schlapp by a staffer on the 2022 marketing campaign of Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker.

Although he was days away from showing, Trump’s presence was felt all through the occasion.

Noah Espresso, a 19-year-old faculty pupil from Houston, mentioned he got here to CPAC primarily to listen to Trump. “I am undoubtedly on the Trump prepare,” he mentioned. “He is the heartbeat of CPAC.”

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A number of audio system praised the previous president, decried the way in which he was handled and promised payback towards Biden and Democrats.

“Take into consideration what President Trump achieved,” mentioned Jordan, citing tax cuts and the nomination of conservative Supreme Court docket justices as two of these achievements.

Jordan, the chairman of the Home Judiciary Committee, mentioned the GOP wanted to take a web page from Democrats’ playbook, noting they zealously pursued impeachment fees towards Trump in 2019 and early 2020.

Audio system on the convention painted a darkish image of the U.S. underneath Biden.  The federal authorities, they mentioned, has demonized dad and mom, allowed  fentanyl to move throughout unsecured borders, failed to face as much as China, permitted transgender athletes to compete in ladies sports activities and colluded with Huge Tech to spy on People. They accused Democrats of mendacity about every thing from Russian collusion within the 2016 election to the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.

However some audio system additionally turned their focus inward, reflecting on the way forward for the Republican Get together.

Sen. J.D. Vance, a Republican from Ohio who was elected in November on a populist platform, mentioned the GOP is not the celebration of the rich nation membership set. 

“We’re the celebration of troopers and sailors, of nurses, of development employees,’’ mentioned Vance, who has already endorsed Trump’s 2024 presidential bid.

“We now have a unique coalition than we had 30 years in the past,” Vance mentioned. “We have got to consider points in another way. You may return 20, 30 years and the Republican Get together was OK with commerce offers and negotiations with China … that destroyed a number of good middle-class jobs within the state that I come from. We’re not taking part in that sport any extra. We are the pro-America celebration, not the pro-China celebration.”

The divide between the populists and what Sen. Ted Cruz known as “the Chamber of Commerce” wing of the celebration was mirrored within the response to the prepare derailment and subsequent poisonous chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio. 

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Vance joined with Democrats, together with fellow Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown — a Democrat who’s excessive on the GOP’s goal record in 2024 — to craft a invoice strengthening rail regulations.  Cruz accused Biden of failing to deal with the disaster.

“Democrats do not give a rattling about East Palestine as a result of it’s a blue collar crimson place … they usually’re just like the hell with you,’’ Cruz mentioned. “Should you had been a bunch of transgender tech employees, you’d have all the Biden Cupboard down there for a listening session.’’

Requested on the Capitol, the place he spoke to Senate Democrats, whether or not he’d go to the crash website, Biden mentioned he had “spoken with each official in Ohio, Democrat and Republican, on a steady foundation” and that he can be “on the market in some unspecified time in the future.” 

In a separate speak later within the afternoon, Scott took goal at his fellow Republicans. Whereas he didn’t cite Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell by identify, he criticized “institution Republicans” that he mentioned have repeatedly capitulated to Democrats.

“It’s not simply the Democrats in Washington who’re destroying our nation,’’ mentioned Scott, R-Fla. “You’ve heard the well-known quote: We’ve met the enemy and he’s us. Sadly a few of the leaders of our personal Republican institution, they’ve been in Washington means too lengthy they usually’ve forgotten why they got here right here. They’ve gotten used to caving in to the Democrats.”

Vance additionally had a message for the celebration’s institution. 

“There are a number of people within the institution wing, in the event that they dont get their most well-liked candidate … they’re going to not elevate a finger to assist,’’ mentioned Vance, an outsider who received a aggressive main thanks largely to Trump’s endorsement.

“There are a number of candidates who’re going to win Republican primaries who aren’t going to be my first alternative, which may be a bit of bit extra average than I’m, a bit of bit extra institution than I’m. Who cares? When you might have a candidate win the first, [we’ve] all obtained to get on board and assist [them],’’ he mentioned.