Nothing to see here: That was the awkward message Tuesday evening as top Republicans returned to Congress following an August recess that saw Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the head of the party's Senate campaign arm, Rick Scott, in a war of words over candidate quality and the party’s chances come November.
McConnell, often a man of few words in the halls, simply raised his eyebrows when asked if he and Scott were now on the same page. But Sen. Scott was more verbose, telling reporters after Republican leaders huddled in McConnell’s office that he and the minority leader “are in the same position, we want to win the races and he’s working hard. … He’s committed to win, I’m committed to win.”
But pressed on his comments — which included an op-ed that said speaking anonymously against GOP candidates was akin to “treason” and a radio tour that followed — Scott said he was targeting those putting out “anonymous quotes.”
When asked point blank if that shouldn’t be seen as a criticism about McConnell, Scott said, “no,” then, “absolutely not.” But Scott did not shy away from directing his criticism at McConnell in interviews right after the op-ed as published, even though Scott never mentioned McConnell by name in the piece.
Scott also declined to detail private conversations when asked if the two men talked about this public battle today, ending simply on a message that his party was “going to win” in November.
His colleagues in the meeting and leadership, Senators John Cornyn, R-Texas, John Thune, R-S.C., and John Barasso, R-Wyo., mostly ignored awkward reporter questions about the public rift, saying it was not discussed in the meeting and they’re focused on November.