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MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough On Bush v. Rubio In Florida’s March 2016 GOP Winner-Take-All Primary

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Sure, it’s early.  But pitchers and catchers don’t report for another two weeks.  Joe Scarborough declares Jeb Bush the winner, and then throws it in reverse for the rest of our chat:

Audio:

02-04hhs-scarborough

Transcript:

HH: I’m so happy to welcome back Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe. Happy New Year, Joe, I haven’t talked to you yet in 2015. It’s great to have you on again.

JS: It’s been a while, Hugh, great to be on. How are you doing?

HH: I’m terrific. Now I’ve got the hardest question in politics to ask you. Are you ready?

JS: Oh, yeah.

HH: You’re a Florida guy, right?

JS: Right.

HH: You’re a Panhandle guy. You know, Florida upside down. You know every nook and cranny of it. When Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio square off on March 15th, 2016 in the Florida winner-take-all primary, who wins?

JS: Well, yeah, I think Jeb, because he was governor, and was fairly popular. I think Jeb ought to do fairly well. That said, you know, Marco took on another governor, and he beat him. He beat Charlie Crist. And right now, I think there are going to be a lot of Florida voters in the primary, as well as a lot of Republicans nationwide that look at Jeb’s position on mainly education and wonder whether he’s the conservative that they want. You know, Jeb was extraordinarily popular as governor. I always said he was one of my favorite politicians. But it’s just going to be tough, I think, for a lot of conservatives to look past his position on education more so than immigration.

HH: So does Marco Rubio have a shot against Jeb Bush?

JS: Boy, I don’t think so. I don’t think in the state of Florida. I mean, Marco is able. I almost said young, but that would reveal just how old I’ve become.

HH: (laughing)

JS: So I don’t want to say that. But I really do think that the Republican Party has learned from the terrible lesson from Democrats that you just don’t nominate a first-term Senator. I think Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted are going to have an uphill battle mainly because of the terrible example set by Barack Obama. So I think in that situation, tie goes to the governor.

HH: Well, let me press it a little bit, because I was doing some research, and it turns out that about 3 million new people have moved into Florida since Jeb Bush was the governor there.

JS: Yeah.

HH: And who knows how many million have died in God’s waiting room, right?

JS: Yeah, exactly.

HH: So it’s been ten…

JS: No, and that’s a great point. I remember one time hearing a statistic in maybe 2008 that Bob Graham had a 45% name ID. Now anybody that grew up in Florida like I did, you know, Graham was governor from ’78-’86, then he was Senator from ’86-2004, I guess it is. The guy was a legend. He was a political god. He was the most powerful guy. But Florida is a mighty stream, and you have populations rushing in. You have populations rushing out. You do have a lot of people dying there. And I remember looking at that, and also looking at the fact that Bill Nelson has been Senator there for God knows how long, and I think Bill’s, I think Bill’s name ID is about 50-55%. So that is actually a good point. Also one other thing about Jeb, Jeb’s not been in the arena since 2006. He’s not been doing what you do every day. He’s not been writing columns. He’s not been out there. He disappeared. I really do wonder, we saw how horrible Hillary Clinton was on her book tour this year.
I really do wonder how Jeb’s going to perform once he goes out to Iowa. A lot of money people think he’s a safe bet. I don’t think Jeb’s a safe bet. I don’t think there’s a safe bet out there right now.

HH: Has former Governor Bush been on Morning Joe, yet, because I haven’t seen him anywhere, and you’ve got to get into fighting shape by going a few sparring rounds with people.

JS: Well, you know, he has not been on Morning Joe in a while, but we’ve had him on several times over the past several years. Educational reform has always been important to me. It’s important to him. Of course, we take a little different view on the federal level. I put a bill on the floor to abolish the Department of Education and send the money back to the states. I don’t think that’s ever been his position or his brother’s position. So I don’t know that he wants to come on right now. It’s not really, as you know, you’ve been on it. And you know, we love you, so it was a pretty easy ride for you. But politicians who want to play it safe don’t really come on the show, because we don’t have scripts. We don’t have talking points. As you know, you just kind of sit down and talk.

HH: Anything can happen.

JS: And a lot of people can find that actually frightening.

HH: Now let me ask you about, I kicked this around with your colleague, Chuck Todd, and he thought it was an interesting idea. You have stage right enters Jeb Bush, stage left enters Marco Rubio. The sponsor of the forum, not the debate, is Telemundo, and every word spoken is in Spanish. I think that’s actually a culture-shaping event, Joe Scarborough, if we can get Telemundo to sponsor those two guys talking about issues in Spanish only. What do you think?

JS: Oh, I think that’s remarkable. I will also tell you that I’ve campaigned with Jeb Bush twice, actually three times in ’94, ’98, 2002, and I remember following through a crowed after he was being elected. We were down in Miami, and it was remarkable. Throngs were around him. The guy was shaking hands with people on his right speaking English, and then somebody else would grab him, and he would turn left and answer in Spanish. It really was a virtuoso performance. And I think you’re exactly right that we actually, as a party, are going to have a field that’s going to be far more diverse than the Democratic field.

HH: So that leads me to the last Florida question. If you’ve got Spanish-fluent Marco Rubio and Spanish-fluent Jeb Bush campaigning in the Florida winner-take-all primary in March of 2015, who wins the Spanish vote? In a closed Republican primary, I believe it’s only open to registered Republicans in Florida. Am I right about that, Joe?

JS: Yes, it’s closed.

HH: Okay, so who wins the Spanish vote in the Florida primary between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, both speaking flawless Spanish in every channel available to the Spanish-speaking community?

JS: I think Marco does, but the fact that Jeb, the fact that you’re asking that question and I don’t know the answer to that question shows why a lot of people believe that Jeb Bush would be a great general election candidate, and I suppose he would be a great general election candidate. But every time we make that calculation, like the establishment and the money men made it with Dole, and they made it with McCain, and they made it with Romney, it always seems to blow up in our face. I don’t know if Jeb Bush is going to be able to, how well he’s going to campaign, whether he’s going to be able to be that guy that I saw back in 1998. It has been a long time since Jeb’s run a competitive race.

HH: All right, last question, which is I’m going up to 30,000 feet. In the last weeks of an election, you talk about winning the day or winning the news cycle. Sometimes, there are many in a day. At this point, you talk about winning the month. Who won the month of January on the Republican side?

JS: You see, I guess Jeb. I guess Jeb, just because he drummed Mitt Romney out of the race. He used the Republican establishment to do it. He used money people to do it despite the fact, and I think this is remarkable, that Mitt Romney was head in virtually every GOP poll. I will tell you who lost the week, I think Rand Paul lost the week. Rand has been doing a lot of really smart things over the past six months or so. I think what he did on vaccines, and also him snapping at a CNBC reporter talking about how biased she was when very few people…hey, you can call MSNBC biased all day and nobody’s going to question you on the left. I don’t think you can call CNBC biased on the left. And so I think Rand lost a little bit of…

HH: Well, they all need to go to charm school. Chris Christie yelled at Philip Rucker on the plane yesterday.

JS: I know. Can you believe that?

HH: No, honestly, they’ve got to like this. You can’t run for president if you don’t like talking to us.
54to do it. He used money people to do it despite the fact, and I think this is remarkable, that Mitt Romney was head in virtually every GOP poll. I will tell you who lost the week, I think Rand Paul lost the week. Rand has been doing a lot of really smart things over the past six months or so. I think what he did on vaccines, and also him snapping at a CNBC reporter talking about how biased she was when very few people…hey, you can call MSNBC biased all day and nobody’s going to question you on the left. I don’t think you can call CNBC biased on the left. And so I think Rand lost a little bit of…

HH: Well, they all need to go to charm school. Chris Christie yelled at Philip Rucker on the plane yesterday.

JS: I know. Can you believe that?

HH: No, honestly, they’ve got to like this. You can’t run for president if you don’t like talking to us

JS: You’ve got to love it. You’ve got to love it. I mean, you know, John McCain, a guy that I’ve not been a fan of on the presidential level, but John McCain, I guess it was in 2000, I mean, the guy charmed the press. He got everybody on the bus. He drove all around Iowa. They drove around New Hampshire. It made a huge difference. If you are already hiding, if you are already lashing out at the media like Rand Paul’s lashing out at the media right now, calling CNBC the left wing media, if you’re doing what Chris Christie’s doing, Chris also had a very bad week, too. So I think taken, if you take all those factors into consideration, Jeb had a pretty good month. I’m still scratching my head on Mitt Romney. I don’t understand that.

HH: Well, that’s a topic for another day. Joe Scarborough, always a pleasure, Morning Joe every morning on MSNBC.

End of interview.

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