Joe Scarborough Subscribes to the Donald Trump School of Politics

He’s being purposefully vague about his political ambitions.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (L) talks with MSNBC host Joe Scarborough (R) as they play guitars during a rally in Des Moines, Iowa in 2008.
National Journal
Emma Roller
Add to Briefcase
Emma Roller
April 23, 2014, 8:59 a.m.

BREAK­ING: Joe Scar­bor­ough is vis­it­ing New Hamp­shire.

What sounds like fairly mundane news serves up a crumb of in­trigue to polit­ic­al re­port­ers hungry for 2016 gos­sip.

On May 2, the MS­N­BC host will speak at a Re­pub­lic­an fun­draiser in New Hamp­shire. And ac­cord­ing to CNN’s an­onym­ous source, Scar­bor­ough will at­tend New Hamp­shire’s an­nu­al Re­pub­lic­an Party meet­ing the fol­low­ing day to talk with state party lead­ers — and to hawk his latest book.

Scar­bor­ough has said he doesn’t want to run for pres­id­ent in 2016, while still leav­ing a crack of room open for spec­u­la­tion. In Feb­ru­ary, he told con­ser­vat­ive talk-show host Hugh He­witt that he “won’t rule any­thing out.” And in March, he gave Molly Ball at The At­lantic the per­fectly vague non-an­swer: “Ever since I got out of polit­ics, people have asked me if I’m go­ing to get back in,” he said. “The an­swer is yeah, at some point I’m go­ing to get back in. It just hasn’t been the right time yet.”

In oth­er words, Scar­bor­ough is tak­ing a page from Don­ald Trump’s play­book.

As BuzzFeed‘s McKay Cop­pins wrote in an ex­cel­lent pro­file of The Don­ald, Trump’s polit­ic­al strategy is to toy with the idea of run­ning for pres­id­ent — and milk that free pub­li­city — every elec­tion cycle, without ever fol­low­ing through.

“Trump can no longer es­cape the fact that his polit­ic­al ‘ca­reer’ — a long con that the blustery bil­lion­aire has per­pet­rated on the coun­try for 25 years by re­peatedly pre­tend­ing to con­sider vari­ous runs for of­fice, only to bail out after gen­er­at­ing hun­dreds of head­lines — fi­nally ap­pears to be on the brink of col­lapse,” Cop­pins wrote. “The reas­on: Nobody seems to be­lieve him any­more.”

Like Trump, Scar­bor­ough has TV rat­ings to think about. While Morn­ing Joe con­sist­ently ranks among the top net­work morn­ing shows, it’s been lag­ging be­hind FOX and fa­cing new com­pet­i­tion from CNN’s New Day. To think about it cyn­ic­ally, a faux pres­id­en­tial run is sure to drive rat­ings.

But un­like Trump, Scar­bor­ough has had a veri­fi­able polit­ic­al ca­reer (not to men­tion the two men’s rad­ic­ally dif­fer­ent polit­ic­al views). Be­fore be­com­ing a TV talk­ing head, Scar­bor­ough rep­res­en­ted the res­id­ents of Flor­ida’s pan­handle in Con­gress for six years. Still, that was more than 12 years ago.

Scar­bor­ough has re­jec­ted the Trump com­par­is­on. “I’m not Sarah Pal­in, and I’m not Don­ald Trump,” he told The New York Times last month. “I don’t need to stir the spec­u­la­tion. I have more in­flu­ence sit­ting at the table where I’m sit­ting, and en­joy a much bet­ter life­style than I ever would get­ting back in­to pub­lic of­fice.” (He now earns $99,000 a week for host­ing “Morn­ing Joe.”)

Still, he’s toed the line between TV host and polit­ic­al act­iv­ist. In both 2005 and 2009, he sug­ges­ted he might run for Sen­ate. In the lat­ter case, he op­ted to in­stead re­new his con­tract with NBC. The fol­low­ing year, he was sus­pen­ded from his show — for two whole days! — for donat­ing a total of $4,000 to vari­ous Flor­ida polit­ic­al can­did­ates, in­clud­ing his broth­er.

He also hasn’t shied away from fel­low Re­pub­lic­ans with pres­id­en­tial am­bi­tions — they’re of­ten guests on his show. In the past, Scar­bor­ough has openly ex­pressed sup­port for Chris Christie — whenev­er the New Jer­sey gov­ernor came up in con­ver­sa­tion on “Morn­ing Joe,” Scar­bor­ough was sure to refer to Christie as a “friend of the show.” (He has since dis­tanced him­self from that friendly rap­port).

Like Jeb Bush, Scar­bor­ough is a Flor­ida politi­cian who may be more com­fort­able at a New York fun­draiser than hob-nob­bing with Pensa­cola seni­ors. Scar­bor­ough’s ex-wife, Susan War­en, was an aide to Bush when he was gov­ernor of Flor­ida.

When asked if he thought Scar­bor­ough was ser­i­ously con­sid­er­ing a run, Newt Gin­grich told The Times, “He’s cer­tainly ser­i­ous about let­ting you talk about him.” “It doesn’t cost him any­thing,” Gin­grich said, “and as long as he’s care­ful about his MS­N­BC con­tract, he can have fun.”

Be­sides, Scar­bor­ough is un­likely to have many fans in the hard­core con­ser­vat­ive base that shapes much of the de­bate in Re­pub­lic­an primar­ies. He does, after all, host a show on MS­N­BC.

What We're Following See More »
SPONSORED BY BARBARA LEE
House Approps Passes AUMF Repeal Amendment
3 minutes ago
THE DETAILS
DRAWS IRE OF WOMEN AGAIN
Trump Posts Crude Tweet About Mika Brzezinski
21 minutes ago
THE LATEST

President Trump is taking heat for another series of tweets, this one aimed at the co-hosts of Morning Joe. “I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore),” Trump wrote. “Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came … to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” In a tweet, Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) said of Trump's statement, "This is not okay." NBC public relations chief Mark Kornblau said it's "beneath my dignity to respond to the President of the United States."

Source:
HEAD OF SECURITY TURNED WHITE HOUSE AIDE
House Intel Wants to Interview Trump Bodyguard
33 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"Congressional investigators now want to interview Keith Schiller, President Donald Trump’s longtime bodyguard-turned-White House aide, as part of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, sources familiar with the investigation told ABC News. Schiller, the former head of security for the Trump Organization who now serves as the White House director of Oval Office operations, is one of several Trump associates on the House Intelligence Committee’s witness list in its ongoing investigation into Russian election interference."

Source:
MOSUL NEARLY RECAPTURED
Iraq Says ISIS Is Defeated
34 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"After eight months of grinding urban warfare, Iraqi government troops on Thursday captured the ruined mosque in Mosul from where Islamic State proclaimed its self-styled caliphate three years ago," and the Iraqi military expect the entire city to be retaken in a matter of days. "Their fictitious state has fallen," said an Iraqi military spokesman.

Source:
BUT WILL BUY HALF OF ITS STORES
Walgreens Won’t Buy Rite Aid
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The move puts to death the long-suffering tie-up between Walgreens and Rite Aid, which was originally announced in October 2015 ...The new deal was designed to alleviate the FTC's concerns about the market overlap between Walgreens and Rite Aid and the bolstered bargaining power a full acquisition would have given Walgreens. Rite Aid said it had to ditch the original deal after regulators privately 'led the company to believe that the parties would not have obtained FTC clearance to consummate the merger.'"

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login