The Republicans are heading into a pivotal midterm election with the MAGA movement looking to squash the little remaining dissent in the party’s old guard. It appears Florida Senator Rick Scott, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Campaign (NRSC), is looking to seize the opportunity and is asserting himself as a pivotal leader in this new Republican party.
Scott has been a frequent visitor to Trump’s Mar-A-Largo and the titular head of the GOP wants Scott to depose Mitch McConnell as the leader of the Senate GOP caucus. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s midterm strategy is to offer no alternative plan in order to make the elections purely a referendum on President Joe Bidenand his agenda, which the GOP Senate caucus is doing everything possible to thwart. But, that doesn’t work for Scott. Bucking McConnell’s leadership, Scott released his own vision for the GOP which, of course, hewed closely to the Trump agenda. The document makes a commitment to build the wall along the Mexican border and name it for Trump.
As chair of the NRSC, Scott helps set the tone and message for Republicans across the country. Dressing up bigoted slogans, racial dog-whistles, and culture war lies as policy, Scott is pointing Republicans down a dark path where he characterized the “greatest danger we have ever faced” in his CPAC speech as “the enemy within.”
Scott’s so-called “plan to rescue America” is an outline of the punch-down dog-whistle attacks that have already come to dominate Republicans’ midterm message. It goes after teachers for teaching history, attacks transgender kids, and looks to falsely blame migrants seeking asylum for a slue of the nation’s problems. More slogan than real policy, Scott’s plan claims a Republican majority would “secure our border, finish building the wall, and name it after President Donald Trump.” And in a stark departure from the actual history of the United States where successive generations of immigrants have built and revitalized America, Scott warns: “Trump’s plan to build a wall was right. We welcome those who want to join us in building the American dream, immigrants who want to be Americans, not change America.” Shinny city on the hill this is not.
At CPAC, Scott was one of the keynote speakers and gave a speech worthy of Joe McCarthy. “Build the damn wall and name it after Trump,” Scott bellowed. Scott also used his speech to push the lie, warning of a “dangerous invasion at the border, drugs, and criminals marching in every day.” This racist lie about a migrant “invasion” at the southern border has a real-world body count and has been the inspiration for white nationalists to commit horrific acts of mass murder. A fact Scott should be well aware of and chose to legitimize anyway.
In January, Scott released a statement from his Senate office, which included this line, “Biden is laying out a welcome mat for human traffickers and savage cartels bringing drugs and crime to our communities, and blatantly ignoring U.S. laws and policies that are designed to keep America safe.” The statement also included messages from Representative Elise Stefanik, the third ranking House Republican, who has embraced the white nationalist “replacement theory,” Brandon Judd, President of the Border Patrol Union who recently appeared in ad where Arizona Republican Senate candidate Jim Lamon shoots at President Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Mark Kelly (whose wife Gabby Giffords was seriously wounded by a gunman), and Dan Stein, who leads the anti-immigrant Hate Group FAIR, which was founded by eugenicist/white nationalist John Tanton.
Scott has also led the NRSC’s program down a similar path of aggressive, xenophobic misinformation. Since last summer the NRSC spent tens of thousands of dollars running hundreds of Facebook ads across numerous pages that warn “Do you want Biden to house ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS in your neighborhood?” Harkening back to the blockbusting and neighborhood racial covenants of the Jim-Crow era, these ads are primarily for building NRSC’s supporters network. Frequently, the NRSC will pay for the ads to run under the banner of an individual Republican Senator. For example, the NRSC has been running Facebook ads under South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham’s page reading “JOE BIDEN HAS PUT OUT THE WELCOME MAT FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS!”
Under Scott’s direction, the NRSC has regularly run Google and Youtube video ads with several different Republican Senators reading the same anti-immigrant fundraising pitch straight to camera. Sen. Scott, Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), Sen. Steve Daines (MT), Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), Sen. Dan Sullivan (AK), and Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA) each perform the script, which falsely warns, “millions of illegal immigrants are flooding into America because they know Biden and his Democratic cronies will give them amnesty.”
Scott’s NRSC has also continues to test out xenophobic dog-whistle attacks on Twitter. Here are just a few examples of the anti-immigrant messaging the NRSC has been regularly pushing:
- @NRSC: @SenateDems continue to push for more radical immigration policies even as the crisis at the Southern Border escalates.
- @NRSC: Biden has failed to secure the Southern Border, and Americans aren’t buying his empty promises.
- @NRSC: Democrats like @chuckschumer want to allow non-citizens to vote. They know they can’t win on the issues, so they want to change the rules.
- @NRSC: Democrats, like @CaptMarkKelly, are not taking Biden’s border crisis seriously. And the result is devastating for border communities
- @NRSC: @JoeBiden and @SenateDems’ radical agenda puts illegal immigrants before the safety of Americans.
Rick Scott is a leader of the Republican party and it’s abundantly clear that he is emulating Donald Trump by pushing the party into more extreme views on immigration. There is no room for possible solutions. That’s evident when his main immigration policy is building a wall. A complete failure as a deterrent as the Washington Post reported, Trump’s “big beautiful wall” has been breached 3,272 times over the past three years. Besides that, Scott has fully embraced white nationalist messages and the Senate GOP’s political operation is echoing that rhetoric in paid ads and social media. Today’s GOP is interested in slogans, stunts, attacks, and sideshows, and when forced only offer the same failed cruelty and deterrence-only approach.