Florida Gov. Rick Scott joined Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski Thursday morning for a segment of ‘Morning Joe’ on MSNBC. The interview began with the hosts asking Scott why he hasn’t endorsed a candidate yet in the Republican presidential race.
Scott dodged the question saying, “No, I’m not endorsing [any candidate] before the Republican primary… Marco’s done a very good job… Donald Trump is a friend. I’ve met Ted Cruz. I know John Kasich… but I rely on the voters.”
The interview then quickly took an awkward turn when Scarborough asked Scott about Trump’s recent anti-Muslim statements.
“Would you tell your friend Donald Trump that he should walk back his statements that Muslims — that Islam — hates America? That Islam hates us? Do you think Muslims in the state of Florida hate America,” the host asked Scott.
The governor continued to dodge the question, pointing to Florida’s job and economic growth instead.
“Wrap it,” you can hear a disgusted Brzezinski say off camera at one point as Scott continues to skirt the issue.
Trump’s comments were made in an interview Wednesday night with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
"It is deeply concerning that Governor Rick Scott would not defend the hundreds of thousands of American Muslims living in Florida, Floridians he is elected to serve and protect," Council on American-Islamic Relations of Florida's Legislative and Government Affairs Director, Laila Abdelaziz, said in a release.
An estimated 500,000 Muslims live in the state of Florida with about 40 mosques and Muslim schools in South Florida alone, a representative from CAIR told NBC's Kerry Sanders Thursday.
"CAIR Florida blames a recent "unprecedented spike" in hate incidents in our State and nationwide, at least in part, on Donald Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric and similar comments used by other Republican leaders such as Gov. Rick Scott," the statement continued.
It had been widely thought that Gov. Scott could endorse the sitting Senator Marco Rubio or his friend and part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump, but his office squashed that idea late last week by releasing a statement that he would not be endorsing before the key March 15 primary. Scott wrote an op-ed published in USA Today in early January titled “Donald Trump has America’s pulse.”
Some have speculated the Florida governor could be among Trump's possible vice presidential picks. WPTV's Joshua Chavers asked the Republican front-runner after his victory speech at Trump National in Jupiter Tuesday night about his potential VP picks and if he is considering Gov. Scott. "A little bit early," is all Trump could say, avoiding the inquiry.
"A little bit early," Trump said tonight on his way out when I asked about VP picks and Florida Gov. Scott: pic.twitter.com/w2HpmcVQaL
— Joshua Chavers (@JoshuaChavers) March 9, 2016
Here’s a partial transcript of the interview that appeared on MSNBC earlier today:
SCARBOROUGH: “You’ve always talked about jobs, jobs, jobs, invest in Florida. You’re a friend with Donald Trump. Would you tell your friend Donald Trump that he should walk back his statements that Muslims — that Islam — hates America? That Islam hates us? Do you think Muslims in the state of Florida hate America?”
SCOTT: “Well, as you know, in Florida, we’re the best melting pot in the world. We love everybody coming to our state. After the Paris bombings, I did ask the federal government to not allow anymore Syrian refugees to come into Florida until we vetted them. I’m still concerned that the federal government’s not vetting them. But, that’s what my concern is.”
SCARBOROUGH: “That’s could be a reasonable policy position… Do you think Muslims hate Americans… as Donald Trump said last night?”
SCOTT: “Well I can tell you what’s going on in Florida….”
BRZEZINSKI: “No, that’s not the question.”
SCOTT: “…We’re almost at a 45-year low in our crime rate. So in our state, we’re heading in the right direction….”
SCARBOROUGH: “… No, no, no, I know what’s going on in Florida…. I want you to answer the question. Do you personally think that Islam is a religion that hates America?”
SCOTT: “So, Joe, what I can tell you in our state is we have a lot of Muslims that live in our state….”
BRZEZINSKI: “Wrap it.”
SCOTT: “We’ve got a lot of Latin Americans that live in our state. We all get along. We love people moving to our state and coming here as tourists. We’re a great melting pot. That’s what I can tell you about our state. Donald Trump he can talk about the things he wants to talk about. Marco Rubio can, Ted Cruz, John Kasich.”
BRZEZINSKI: “No. No. Mmmh mmmh That’s not answering any questions. Rick. Rick. Rick. Rick. Rick. Rick. I know you and Joe are friends. And this is kind of awkward. But, can you answer the question, or should we scoot?
SCOTT: “Well, I can tell you that I’m glad everybody’s in Florida. We’re doing well here. The debate’s going to be fun tonight. I hope they talk about jobs. It’s the most-important issue.”
BRZEZINSKI: “Gov. Rick Scott. Thanks for being on. We will, uh, move on. Thanks.”
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