President Trump lunched with Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., the White House announced Sunday afternoon.
“The two leaders discussed ongoing hurricane recovery efforts, the need to improve the nation’s aging infrastructure, and many other matters important to the people of Florida,” the White House press office relayed.
Trump has been lobbying Scott, a popular second-term governor, to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in 2018. Trump carried the state in the 2016 presidential election, stoking Republican hopes of a pickup that could prove crucial to the GOP Senate’s majority.
“President Trump spoke about the tax cut bill that he signed into law before the Christmas holiday and the economic growth it is already unleashing across the country,” the White House added. “The president underscored the importance of Governor Scott’s leadership in Florida, and the two indicated that they look forward to working together in the New Year.”
The summary makes no mention of the 2018 campaign, of course, but Trump’s emphasis on the GOP tax reform plan could be part of his case for Scott’s candidacy. Political strategists and potential candidates eyed the congressional debate over the bill with keen interest, believing its failure would doom Republican candidates across the country after the collapse of the effort to repeal Obamacare earlier in 2017.
Scott would be a formidable Senate challenger, all things being equal. A successful businessman, he has the resources to compete in Florida’s expensive media markets. And several fall surveys have shown him in a statistical tie or leading Nelson in a hypothetical matchup.
“Scott’s fortunes are buoyed by key metrics driven by his handling of Hurricane Irma, which include 56 percent of likely voters thinking Florida is headed in the right direction, and 91 percent of Floridians — including 84 percent of Democrats — approving of his crisis management in the storm,” Florida Politics wrote of a state Chamber of Commerce poll in September.
The governor echoed the White House talking points following the meeting.
“In 2018, we’ll continue our focus on cutting taxes, supporting job creation and education opportunities, and doing all we can to help secure Florida’s future for every family,” Scott tweeted.