(The Hill) — Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Thursday endorsed former President Donald Trump in the 2024 GOP presidential primary, going against a previous promise that he would stay out of the race and turning against his state’s governor, Ron DeSantis (R).
“I am optimistic that we can return America to its rightful position of economic and military strength and the undisputed moral leader of the free world, but only with strong leadership in the White House,” Scott said in a Newsweek op-ed published Thursday.
“That is why I support my friend President Donald J. Trump to be the 47th president of the United States and encourage every Republican to unite behind his efforts to win back the White House,” he continued.
Scott, then the governor of Florida, endorsed Trump in the 2016 election, and Trump returned the favor for Scott’s 2018 Senate election bid.
“It’s time for the Republican Party to come together, behind one candidate, and declare with one voice that we are united in our efforts to defeat Joe Biden and rescue America,” Scott said in the op-ed Thursday.
Scott’s endorsement continues a trend of Florida politicians publicly backing Trump and siding against DeSantis, who has been seen as Trump’s strongest challenger.
Trump has a healthy lead in national and state polls over DeSantis, who is now contending with a challenge from former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for second place behind Trump.
A majority of Florida’s 20 Republican members of Congress have endorsed Trump, while the state’s other senator — Sen. Marco Rubio (R) — has stayed quiet on the race.
The most recent high-profile Trump endorsement was Florida state Rep. Randy Fine (R), who previously served as a senior DeSantis advisor. Fine, who is Jewish, decried DeSantis as weak on Jewish issues despite years of placating statements.
While Scott was not expected to back DeSantis in the presidential election — the pair have feuded for years over policy and personal relationships — he previously pledged to keep his powder dry in the race.
“I know most of the candidates running for president, and I respect their decision to put themselves through this very difficult process,” Scott said in the op-ed. “Make no mistake: every single one of them would be a better president than Joe Biden.”
“But Republican voters are making their voices heard loud and clear,” he continued. “They want to return to the leadership of Donald Trump.”