- Sen. Rick Scott endorsed former President Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination, praising Trump’s prior term and suggesting that the party unites behind him.
- Scott indicated that Republican voters have shown an inclination towards Trump.
- A divide in GOP support between Trump and DeSantis is evident in Florida, with state lawmakers and officials making varied endorsements, though the governor retains the backing of a majority of state lawmakers.
Sen. Rick Scott formally endorsed former President Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination on Thursday in a move that further highlights potential divides within the party’s Florida ranks.
In an op-ed for Newsweek, Scott praised Trump’s previous term in the White House, contrasting it with the current Biden administration, and expressed a sentiment of favoring a return to Trump-era policies. The senator further drew attention to the supposed need for the party to coalesce behind a lone candidate, stating that party voters have shown an inclination towards Trump.
“I am optimistic that we can return America to its rightful position of economic and military strength and the undisputed moral leader of the free world, but only with strong leadership in the White House,” wrote Scott. “That is why I support my friend President Donald J. Trump to be the 47th president of the United States and encourage every Republican to unite behind his efforts to win back the White House.”
Scott’s endorsement notably spurns Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has struggled to gain traction since his entry to the race earlier this year. A recent Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll indicated that Trump continues to hold a significant lead among likely Republican caucusgoers, garnering 43 percent support as Iowans’ first choice for president, an increase from 42% in a prior August poll.
DeSantis, meanwhile, once seen as the clear second-place contender, has seen his support dip from 19 percent in August to 16 percent at the end of October, putting him in a tie with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.
“I know most of the candidates running for president, and I respect their decision to put themselves through this very difficult process,” continued Scott. “They’ve made their case to voters, laid out their agendas and their plans, and told their stories. Make no mistake: every single one of them would be a better president than Joe Biden. But Republican voters are making their voices heard loud and clear. They want to return to the leadership of Donald Trump.”
A schism of support has presented itself among the two GOP field leaders — who both consider Florida their home state — with state lawmakers and officials tasked with levying their endorsement. Last week, former DeSantis ally Rep. Randy Fine defected his support for the governor and endorsed Trump, citing the latter’s support for Israel.
Upon the beginning of the election cycle, Sen. Joe Gruters was the lone state lawmaker to publicly endorse Trump, which was allegedly met with a score of vetoes against Gruters’ line items in the state budget.
DeSantis still holds a heavy majority of support among state lawmakers, with House Speaker Rep. Paul Renner reiterating his pledge of support following Fine’s flip.
“There is no stronger candidate for President … than Ron DeSantis,” wrote Renner on X.
Meanwhile, DeSantis’ campaign continued to express confidence in his standings, telling The Capitolist that the governor “has more endorsements from state legislators than the former president in Iowa (41), New Hampshire (62), and South Carolina (16)” and that “the governor will win his home state because Floridians want to see a fighter who will bring the same type of results-oriented leadership to Washington that he has provided in the Sunshine State.”