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Sen. Rick Scott On The GOP Convention

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Like most Republicans, Florida Sen. Rick Scott will not be in North Carolina for his party's national convention this week. Instead, like the rest of us, he is watching the virtual gathering from his home state of Florida. And that's where we have reached him in Naples to look ahead at this important moment for his party.

Sen. Rick Scott, welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

RICK SCOTT: Hey, Ari, you guys do a great job.

SHAPIRO: Oh, thank you so much. Well, Republicans this year have decided not to adopt a new platform at the convention. It's the first time since the party's founding that they've taken this step. Instead, the GOP is affirming its enthusiastic support for the president's agenda. Do you think this was a missed opportunity to clearly spell out for voters what that agenda is?

SCOTT: Well, Ari, here's my hope, and I think this is going to happen. I think this week what everybody ought to talk about is the dream of this country. People like me that grew up in public housing, we want to have an opportunity. And so if the president and all the speakers talk about what they're going to - you know, what Republicans stand for. We stand for opportunity. We stand for freedom. We stand for a good economy. We stand for making sure our kids get a great education. We stand for law enforcement. We stand for our military. We stand for holding China and Cuba and Venezuela accountable. That's what we ought to do because that will be a big contrast to what the Democrats talked about last week. So I think that's what's going to happen. And I hope that's what happens.

SHAPIRO: At least seven of the speakers, according to the lineup, are members of the Trump family, including the president's children, some of their spouses. Critics call it a cult of personality. What do you hope audiences get out of hearing from these various members of the Trump family over the course of the week?

SCOTT: Well, I hope they talk about, you know, who the president is but also the issues. I think this election is got to come down to - you know, look, we have - on the one side, we have somebody that's been in politics, Joe Biden, his entire life. We have - on the other side, we have some business person like what I was when I ran in 2010. I think people want new faces that have a business background. They don't want career politicians. I hope what they do, including the Trump family, they talk about the policies that are going to help families because that's what's important.

SHAPIRO: Do you think the president can still market himself as an outsider after four years in office? Does he really qualify as a new face at this point?

SCOTT: Oh, I think so, yeah. I mean, it - if you - you know, here - it's a clear choice. I mean, he's been involved for four years and Joe Biden has been there for 50 years. And so I think there's a clear choice, and America is not interested in socialism. American's not interested in defunding the police, and America's not interested in "Medicare for All." They want good health care, but they know Medicare for All means no health care for people. So I think that the Republicans have got to talk about what they - why they stand for what they stand for. And I think if they do, then we'll win.

SHAPIRO: As you know, there's also a big debate over how people are actually going to cast their votes. And President Trump has attacked mail-in voting pretty consistently, saying without evidence that it's not secure. But earlier this month, he made an exception for your state of Florida.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Over a long period of time, they've been able to get the absentee ballots done extremely professionally. Florida is different from other states.

SHAPIRO: Now, Republican strategists have told NPR that this shift is because discouraging mail-in voting could hurt the president in your state. And, of course, he needs to carry Florida if he wants to win. Do you see that as what's going on here?

SCOTT: Well, I think it - I talked to the president about it. I explained to him that the way we do mail-in voting works, you have to be - you know, you have to register for it. We have - you have to have it in on time, things like that. I think the difference is if it's a state that says they're just going to mail it out, you know, without a lot of safeguards, if they're not going to get the votes in on time, that's going to be a problem.

SHAPIRO: Just in our last 30 seconds, you know, Florida's voted for the winner in each of the last six presidential elections. And Biden so far has a pretty consistent lead. But you survived a blue wave to win election to the Senate two years ago. So what advice do you have for the president, briefly, to carry your state in November?

SCOTT: He's going to win Florida, but it's going to be tied to the fact - talk about the issues that matter to family - education, jobs, law enforcement, holding Castro's regime accountable. That's what's going to make him win in Florida.

SHAPIRO: Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, thank you for joining us today.

SCOTT: Thanks, Ari. Have a great day.

SHAPIRO: You too. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.