(WASHINGTON) — Florida Sen. Rick Scott, a member of Republican leadership in the upper chamber, said Sunday that he does not “condone violence” after Donald Trump lashed out at Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell and suggested McConnell had a “death wish”– but Scott stopped short of condemning the former president.
Trump, in a post on his Truth Social website last week, wrote that McConnell must have a “death wish” after supporting a continuing resolution to fund the federal government.
Trump went on to criticize McConnell’s wife in racist terms, writing that he should “seek help and advise [sic] from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!” Trump was referring to Elaine Chao, who is Taiwanese. Chao served as Trump’s transportation secretary until she resigned after Jan. 6
Scott, who leads the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, was asked for his opinion of Trump’s attack on McConnell during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“I can never talk about and respond to why anybody else says what they said,” Scott said. “But here’s the way I look at it is I think what the president is saying is 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 unbelievable inflation and causing more and more debt.”
Scott then shrugged off the insult about Chao.
“As you know, the president likes to give people nicknames. You can ask him how he came up with the nickname,” Scott said. “I’m sure he has a nickname for me.”
“But here’s what I know: We’ve got to watch how we spend our money, we got to stop this inflation,” he said. “I don’t condone violence, and I hope no one else condones violence.”
Trump’s team has insisted in the wake of the former president’s “death wish” comment that it was meant in a political sense and was not advocating physical harm.
On CNN on Sunday, Scott was pressed on the racially inflammatory nature of how Trump singled out Chao. He replied that “It’s never ever OK to be a racist. I think you always have to be careful if you’re in the public eye with how you say things. You want to make sure you’re inclusive.”
Trump and McConnell, though close legislative allies through much of Trump’s administration, became estranged in the wake of Jan. 6.
While McConnell did not vote to convict Trump at his second impeachment, he said in a speech in February 2021 that Trump was “morally responsible” for the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Trump has since repeatedly denounced McConnell, which McConnell typically ignores in public. His office did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.
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