Senator Rick Scott Has Been Weighing a Presidential Run

Senator Rick Scott of Florida is considering a late entry into the Republican presidential primary race, a move that would make him the latest high-profile Florida Republican to try to wrest the nomination from Donald J. Trump, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

Should he enter the race, Mr. Scott, Florida’s former governor, would be challenging both the front-runner, Mr. Trump, as well as the distant-second rival, Ron DeSantis, the state’s current governor. Mr. Scott would also join Mr. Trump, Mr. DeSantis and Mayor Francis X. Suarez of Miami as the fourth Republican presidential candidate from Florida. Mr. DeSantis in particular could see his support erode further if Mr. Scott adds to an already crowded field of Trump alternatives.

Mr. Scott, who came to power as governor during the Tea Party wave of 2010, has been discussing a possible campaign for several weeks, according to the people familiar with the talks. Like other recent entries, Mr. Scott appears to be assessing a G.O.P. field in which Mr. DeSantis, with whom Mr. Scott has had a difficult relationship, has lost some support after a series of missteps and unforced errors.

Larry Hogan, the Republican former governor of Maryland, captured this sentiment in a recent CBS News interview, calling Mr. DeSantis’s campaign “one of the worst I’ve seen so far.” He added, “Everyone was thinking he was the guy to beat, and now I don’t think too many people think that.”

On Thursday, Will Hurd, a moderate Republican and former Texas congressman, announced a long-shot candidacy for president in a video message.

For Mr. Scott, who is 70 years old and wealthy enough that he can fund his own candidacy, the campaign could be the last chance he has to make a bid for the White House, a run he has long shown interest in. Should a Republican unseat President Biden in the 2024 election, it would be difficult for Mr. Scott or anyone else in the party to challenge that new president during a re-election effort four years later.

But running for president would be a dramatic shift for Mr. Scott, who announced earlier this year that he would seek a second six-year term in the Senate in 2024 instead of a national campaign.

Mr. Scott’s senior adviser, Chris Hartline, said in a statement to The New York Times: “It’s flattering that some have mentioned the possibility of Senator Scott running for President, but as he’s said many times, he’s running for re-election to the Senate.”

If Mr. Scott does decide to enter the race, it is unclear how aggressively he would challenge Mr. Trump, who currently dominates the field even after being indicted twice.

Mr. Scott led a major for-profit hospital chain before getting involved in politics. He served as governor of Florida for two terms before running for Senate in 2018. In 2021 and 2022, he was the chairman of the Senate Republican campaign arm, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a prestige perch that senators often use to boost their national profiles ahead of a presidential campaign. Mr. Scott’s tenure was rocky, marked by a cash drain from the committee and criticisms about how the money was spent.

Mr. Trump made clear early on that he planned on trying to keep his grip on the Republican Party after the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, 2021. Mr. Scott visited Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s private club, in April 2021 to grant him a newly-created award from the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“This weekend I was proud to recognize President Donald Trump with the inaugural @NRSC Champion for Freedom Award,” Mr. Scott wrote on Twitter, posing in a picture with Mr. Trump. “President Trump fought for American workers, secured the border, and protected our constitutional rights.”

At the time, Mr. Trump remained popular with the Republican Party’s base even after his baseless claims that the 2020 election was “rigged” against him. Mr. Scott, as chairman of a party committee, appeared to find harmony with Mr. Trump to be in the best interests of Senate nominees.

Mr. Scott has had a more contentious relationship with Mr. DeSantis.

Before Mr. DeSantis signed into state law a bill restricting most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, Mr. Scott said that he favored keeping what were then the current restrictions, after 15 weeks of pregnancy. He also called for “cooler heads” to “prevail” as Mr. DeSantis escalated a feud with Disney, the largest private employer in Florida. A monthslong fight between the governor and the company stemmed from the opposition some officials at Disney had to a new state law restricting gender and sexuality education in elementary schools.

Mr. Scott was not a favorite of some of his colleagues in the Senate. In 2022, he ran an ultimately failed bid to oust the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, from his leadership position, the capstone in what had become a toxic relationship between the two Republicans.

Jonathan Swan is a political reporter who focuses on campaigns and Congress. As a reporter for Axios, he won an Emmy Award for his 2020 interview of then-President Donald J. Trump, and the White House Correspondents’ Association’s Aldo Beckman Award for “overall excellence in White House coverage” in 2022. @jonathanvswan

Maggie Haberman is a senior political correspondent and the author of “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.” She was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting on President Trump’s advisers and their connections to Russia. @maggieNYT

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