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GOP's Senate campaign chief won't back down from party fight

GOP's Senate military operation leader won't spine down from communal gathering fight

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Rick Scott likes to believe of himself while Gen. Ulysses S. Grant throughout the Civil War.

Barely halfway into and not here of his earliest Senate term, the Florida Republican is by that hour dated leaning into a fight opposed to his own party's leadership while he navigates a fine alliance accompanied by former President Donald Trump with every one other accompanied by pushes a handcrafted policy agenda that numerous Republicans reject.

But Scott, who is too the Senate GOP's midterm chief, insists he has only begun to fight.

The 69-year-old former businessman likens his circumstances to that of Grant throughout the battle of Vicksburg, when the general ordered multiple bloody assaults on the Southern stronghold earlier to delivering a victory that helped turn the war inside the Union's favor.

"I believe of myself additional exist fond of Grant taking Vicksburg, with every one other accompanied by I believe while a consequence of that, I'm always going to exist perceived while an outsider," Scott said inside an interview. "I'm going to retain doing what I exist convinced by inside whether everybody agrees accompanied by me or not."

For now, what Scott believes is straight at likelihood accompanied by the wishes of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

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Scott is refusing to renounce an 11-point governing scheme he released accompanied by little input from communal gathering leadership, flat following McConnell's condition rebuke one month ago. In the weeks since, Scott has continued to go forward his plan, which would lift taxes on millions of Americans who don't be paid sufficient to pay confederate income taxes, inside dozens of speeches with every one other accompanied by media appearances.

Those near to Scott propose he understands the modern Republican Party better than McConnell with every one other accompanied by his setting up allies. And while tension lingers, Scott is leaving not shut the possibility of challenging McConnell for Senate majority leader should Republicans retake the Senate majority this fall, although the prospects of him waging a victorious attempt are slim. Most who know Scott well exist convinced by he's additional probable to seek the presidency inside 2024.

McConnell's office declined to comment.

The tale of Scott's unlikely rise from a little-known Florida businessman accompanied by a rigid demeanor to a two-term manager to a senator willing to buck his own party's leadership offers a fresh reminder that the orthodox rules governing national government no indeed longer exist. Few external outside Mar-a-Lago exist convinced by Scott could bang McConnell from his leadership pole with every one other accompanied by Scott is an afterthought inside early 2024 presidential chatter, which is dominated by his successor while governor, Ron DeSantis.

But allies propose it would exist a mistake to dismiss him while a solemn political player.

Political adviser Curt Anderson, who has advised Scott for additional than a decade, described the senator's attentiveness inside McConnell's position of employment while "pretty low," although Trump has privately encouraged Scott to be brave enough the Senate Republican leader. When asked concerning a potential presidential run, however, Anderson said only, "We'll see what opportunities lay ahead."

Not only has Scott won every one contest he's run, regularly while the underdog, he is the richest subscriber of Congress accompanied by a netting price that exceeded $232 million earlier to his last election. He has too expanded his donor web greatly over the last year inside his part while chairperson of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Lest anyone question Scott's readiness to dip into his personal fortune to further his political ambitions, he spent additional than $63 million of his own money to come first in Florida's 2018 Senate election.

And his political footprint is growing.

As chairperson of the Senate GOP's military operation arm, Scott is in charge of for his party's quest to retake the Senate majority. He is tasked accompanied by leading the Republican Senate strategy, including how finest to dispatch tens of millions of dollars to answer races across the country.

That's flat while Republican Senate candidates privately fret that Scott's policy agenda is giving Democrats a strong talking point to use opposed to them this fall. Several GOP campaigns have gone around Scott's committee to portion their concerns straight accompanied by McConnell's team, although Scott has resisted pressure to spine off.

Still, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel described Scott while "the eventual team player" who works "hand inside glove" accompanied by the party's other greatest military operation committees.

But McDaniel's commend ended when the discussion turned to his governing agenda with every one other accompanied by the supplying that would lift taxes.

"I'm not a policymaker," McDaniel said when asked straight whether she supports Scott's plan. She noted that House Republicans are employed on another policy rollout. "I know that our voters are really focused on what are our plans if we govern. But we have to come first in to do anything."

Republicans inside Washington are divided over whether they flat need a governing agenda.

The Republican Party declined to adopt a platform at Trump's 2020 presidential nominating convention. And numerous Republican strategists exist convinced by the GOP tin come first in the House with every one other accompanied by Senate majority this let fall lacking providing specific policy goals specified Democratic President Joe Biden's frail political standing with every one other accompanied by orthodox political headwinds opposed to the communal gathering inside power.

When asked earlier inside the year what the GOP's agenda would exist if it took jurisdiction of Congress, McConnell told reporters, "That is a extremely good question with every one other accompanied by I'll permit you know when we lay clasp of it back."

McConnell is not used to actuality challenged. He has been elected Senate Republican leader by acclamation lacking so a a large amount of while a token challenger since 2007. He has by that hour dated publicly declared his intention to retain his leadership part following the midterm elections, with every one other accompanied by his team does not expect anyone to exist against him.

But while Trump calls for McConnell's ouster from afar, Scott with every one other accompanied by House Republican leaders are challenging the Senate leader's wisdom.

House Republicans worked on their own "Commitment to America" agenda last week at their yearly retreat inside Jacksonville, Florida. During the three-day gathering, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was asked concerning the decision to introduce an agenda when McConnell has held off.

"I believe elections are important. But I believe it's additional than important than fair running opposed to another communal gathering to tell the American condition what you will do," McCarthy told reporters.

More than most Senate Republicans, Scott has worked to grow relationships accompanied by leading House conservatives, including Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks, R-Ind. Scott regularly sends handwritten thank-you notes following private meetings with every one other accompanied by has an "impressive personal touch" that does not necessarily match his rigid exterior, Banks said.

Banks described Scott's agenda while "a courageous plan" that gives the communal gathering "a good framework to follow." Like other leading Republicans, however, he stopped short of endorsing Scott's tax provision.

"I don't know that I support it or don't support it. I don't know the specifics," Banks said. "But flat Sen. Scott has admitted that this is his draft, his try to place a framework around the GOP agenda. He deserves praise for that."

Scott's scheme to "Rescue America" features 11 broad policy goals, most of which are focused on the conservative movement's ethnic priorities.

He would need children inside condition educational organization to stand for the national anthem; chunk the confederate management from asking people to disclose their race, ethnicity, skin color or gender preference; complete Trump's proposed border wall; with every one other accompanied by ban "biological males" from competing inside women's sports.

Critics have latched onto additional specific provisions concerning taxes with every one other accompanied by confederate legislation.

Scott calls for a lowest level confederate tax on tens of millions of Americans who don't build sufficient money to pay confederate income taxes. Another supplying would sunset all confederate legislation five years following passage, which critics contend would jeopardize Social Security with every one other accompanied by Medicare, although Scott has said that is not his intention.

Indiana Sen. Mike Braun acknowledged that some inside the Senate GOP caucus grumbled concerning the plan, nevertheless he said he remains optimistic inside Scott's political leadership with every one other accompanied by flat defended the 11-point plan.

In a brief interview, Braun insisted Republicans were still inside a strong political position heading into the November midterms since Democrats' mistakes have "served up a platter of opportunity."

"I speak lay clasp of advantage of that, nevertheless too stake a little ground not here that gives independents who ballot swing-state senators with every one other accompanied by the president something other than the communal gathering of 'No,'" Braun said.

Beyond dividing his caucus on Capitol Hill, Scott's scheme has too divided some of Washington's most strong conservative institutions.

Grover Norquist, president of the conservative category Americans for Tax Reform, dismissed Scott's scheme while "an unserious presentation" that would create "a significant tax increase."

Norquist complained that Scott released his proposal lacking checking accompanied by the broader conservative movement. "This was not sprint past anybody," he said. "Not happening."

Meanwhile, Kevin Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation, praised Scott's agenda, including the tax piece. Scott is place to high point his proposal throughout a Thursday speech at the foundation, which too plans to release its own place of policy goals.

The fierce resistance to Scott's plan, Roberts said, underscores a broader debate within the GOP.

"This is not an morally correct discussion concerning taxation policy," Roberts said. "It's concerning the setting up self-appointed ruling elites — I signify that normally — inside with every one other accompanied by external outside the Capitol telling a great subscriber of the Senate who's employed on behalf of his constituents that he fair needs to place an extremity to talking concerning this since it's not the scheme they've decided."

And while Republicans fight every one other, the Democratic National Committee has used Scott's scheme while a weapon opposed to the GOP since the day he released it.

The DNC released a following circular of digital ads last week that calls on voters to "stop Senate Republicans' new scheme to lift taxes on 50% of Americans." The ads characteristic black-and-white pictures of Trump, McConnell with every one other accompanied by Scott.

"Rick Scott literally place it inside writing," DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison told The Associated Press. "Every Republican lawmaker must answer for it, with every one other accompanied by you tin bet we're going to remind the American people of it every one chance we get."

Meanwhile, those who have watched Scott's political rise up near exist convinced by he is only beginning to place his trample on national politics.

Ex-Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who unsuccessfully ran opposed to Scott inside the 2010 Republican main for governor, said he wouldn't underestimate Scott's potential to become the following Senate majority leader or the following president.

"I believe he's been ambitious to exist president of the United States. He always has been," McCollum said. "His real ambition was to obtain to Washington, always. That's his real ambition. His real ambition is to exist leader administrative office of the country."


Associated Press writers Brian Slodysko inside Washington with every one other accompanied by Farnoush Amiri inside Jacksonville, Florida, contributed to this report.

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