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
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 »
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
4 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Variety Looks at How Michelle Obama Has Leveraged Pop Culture
6 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

“My view is, first you get them to laugh, then you get them to listen," says Michelle Obama in a new profile in Variety. "So I’m always game for a good joke, and I’m not so formal in this role. There’s very little that we can’t do that people wouldn’t appreciate.” According to writer Ted Johnson, Mrs. Obama has leveraged the power of pop culture far beyond her predecessors. "Where are the people?" she asks. "Well, they’re not reading the op-ed pieces in the major newspapers. They’re not watching Sunday morning news talk shows. They’re doing what most people are doing: They are watching TV.”

Source:
RUSSIAN HACKERS LIKELY BEHIND THE ATTACKS
New York Times, Other News Organizations Hacked
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The FBI and other US security agencies are currently investigating a series of computer breaches found within The New York Times and other news organizations. It is expected that the hacks were carried out by individuals working for Russian intelligence. It is believed that these cyber attacks are part of a "broader series of hacks that also have focused on Democratic Party organizations, the officials said."

Source:
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY STUDENTS PETITIONED
NLRB: Graduate Students Can Unionize
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a 3-1 decision, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of Columbia University graduate students, granting them the legal right to unionize. The petition was brought by a number of teaching assistants enrolled in graduate school. This decision could pave the way for thousands of new union members, depending on if students at other schools nationwide wish to join unions. A number of universities spoke out in opposition to this possibility, saying injecting collective bargaining into graduate school could create a host of difficulties.

Source:
DIFFERENT KIND OF CONVENTION BOUNCE
Cruz Approval Ratings Underwater
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Following Texas Senator Ted Cruz's controversial decision not to endorse Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention, instead telling voters to "vote (their) conscience," a new poll out today shows that his approval ratings have sunk. The poll from Public Policy Polling shows that 39 percent of Texans approve of the job Cruz is doing, compared to 48 percent who don't approve. Additionally, despite winning the GOP primary in the state, the poll found that if the primary was held today, Trump would garner 52 percent of support to just 38 percent for Cruz.

Source:
×