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Florida Sen. Rick Scott Says RNC Attendees Will Have To Social Distance, Wear Masks09:48
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Rick Scott, then governor of Florida, speaks to the media outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 29, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
Rick Scott, then governor of Florida, speaks to the media outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 29, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

In the last 14 days, 20 states have seen an increase in newly reported coronavirus cases, according to data from The New York Times.

COVID-19 cases have spiked in areas such as Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma and Republican Sen. Rick Scott’s home state of Florida.

Scott says his family has been "very, very, very cautious" about coronavirus measures. He encourages other Floridians to do the same.

"I hope everybody is wearing masks, social distancing and getting tested," he says.

After backing out of Charlotte, North Carolina, the Republican National Convention, which is scheduled for late August, will now be held in Jacksonville. While Scott says he’s glad the convention is taking place in the Sunshine State, he says RNC organizers must make sure it's safe for all attendees.

"They're going to have to social distance,” he says. “They're going to have to wear masks.”

Interview Highlights

On his reaction to John Bolton’s allegations that President Trump asked Chinese President Xi to help him with his re-election

“Well, first off, I've not known John Bolton a long time but my experience with him would have been positive. I haven't seen the book. So I don't know any facts in the book. And I clearly wasn't there when any of these things happened. So, you know, look, I think like everything, get the facts out there. I don't know ... the way to do it. Now, I do know that Xi is the general secretary of the Communist Party and is a dictator, human rights violator. But it's always best to get the facts out. This isn't a Republican and Democrat issue. I just don't think people ought to go work for a president, any president and go with these tell-all books. I mean, I don't think it's the right thing to do.”

On Bolton alleging that Trump told Xi to go ahead with Uighur detention camps

“I think every American president has got to stand up for our freedoms. We know that, you know, General Secretary Xi doesn't believe in that. [He] doesn't believe in human rights. I think every American president's got to stand up for freedom and liberty and democracy and with the goal that every person in the entire world has the same sort of bill of rights that we have. But of course, I wasn't there. So I hope that every president stands up against what they're doing to the Uighurs.”

On the GOP police reform bill and its lack of a ban on no-knock warrants

“First off, I'm glad that we're having this conversation, right? I think we've got to say we don't ever want something to happen, like what happened to George Floyd. It is disgusting to everybody I talked to in law enforcement. So here's what I'm doing. I'm talking to sheriffs. I'm talking to the police chiefs. I'm talking to the police unions and say, OK, so give me your thoughts on these things. You know, somebody from outside, you say, why would you ever have to do things like that? You know, a no-knock warrant. And, you know, there's these issues about body cameras, these issues about chokeholds, all these things.

"So I'm what I'm doing is I'm getting the facts from the people that deal with it every day. And when you look at what happened with George Floyd, we clearly see there's bad actors. I've had a very positive working relationship with our sheriffs and police chiefs when I left as governor. I want every community to be safe. And I want law enforcement to do their job and be respected.”

On whether he’s optimistic that Democrats and Republicans can pass police reform legislation

“I actually am on this. If there's going to continue where the Democrats are talking about defunding the police and then that's clearly not going to happen. Republicans are not going to be there. We've got to have law enforcement. We have to have accountable law enforcement. So hopefully that's not where the Democrats end up. I know that's what they're talking about now, some of them.

"But, yeah, I'm optimistic. I think [Sen.] Tim Scott and my colleagues on the Republican side did this in a sincere way. When I talk to [Republicans], what I want is I want accountability. If you want to help everybody in your community, then you say, how does everybody get a job? Not like 4%, just a small percentage of some, you've got to do it for everybody. And then I talk to people all the time. They want to live. Where do they live? They don't like to move around. They like their friends, their family. But they want to be safe. I lived in public housing. Everybody I was around, they wanted to be safe. And so let's make it safe for everybody.”

On whether his state of Florida reopened too soon, in light of rising COVID-19 cases

“You hope not, right? ... There's more tests — are there enough COVID tests? No, there's not enough COVID tests yet. I know our health care community is focused on making sure they're ready if there is.

“You hope that if we all take this seriously, we'll figure out how to stop this. I'm optimistic we funded the vaccine. Unfortunately it's not going to happen today. But hopefully we will have a vaccine. We'll have a vaccine quickly. And that's when we're going to finally get back to a normal life again. But you sure hope people keep taking this seriously. I don't want anybody to get sick.”

On whether Jacksonville can host the Republican National Committee safely

“They're going to have to, they have to. Look, I'm glad the convention's in Florida. But you got to do this safely. So they're going to have to social distance. They're going to have to wear masks. They're going to have to do everything they can. Hopefully by then, you know, maybe there'll be enough tests out there that people can be tested. I don't know whatever to do, but they have to do this safely. We cannot have another outbreak of this. We don't want to shut down our economy again. So we've got to figure out how to sort of do both: open our economy, try to go back to normal, but do it safely.”

On whether he’d consider expanding unemployment benefits

“Well, here's what I think. We've got to take care of the people that lost the job, but we can't do it in a manner that our small businesses don't get reopened because they don't have their employees. So you can't pay people more to not work than to work. That doesn't make any sense. But you want to make sure people can survive while we get this economy open again. So you got to figure out how to do this. You know, we've got another, what, five weeks or so to try to figure this out. You know, I'm going to be very active in trying to make sure that we take care of those unemployed. What I don’t want to do is I don’t want, sort of, taxpayers to bail out New York or other states that didn't fund their pensions, that have dramatically bigger budgets. You know, they don't ever hold anybody to account, you know, they don't watch their money. So we've got to take care of our small businesses and we have to take care of the people who have lost their jobs.”

On whether there will be another relief bill out of Congress

“I think what we'll do is we're going to have a focus on how do we make sure we have liability protection for our first responders and our health care workers and our small business. I think that's going to be in there. I think we're going to focus on how you make sure you think that people are unemployed and whatever relief we need to continue to help our small business. I think that would be in there. So, you know, we've got a few weeks to go to see what's happening and then we can make it. We can figure this out. I think this will happen, if it happens, Jeremy, it's going to happen the last two weeks of July.”

On whether Florida will enact LGBTQ employment protections after this week’s SCOTUS decision

“Well, first up, I'm against any form of discrimination. So I support the decision by the court. I think that we've got to make sure that people are not discriminated against. And so we'll see if there's something else we need. But we cannot have people being discriminated in any way at all. So I support what the court did. You know, people want to go complain about the courts making these decisions, but it's because the legislative bodies don't do their job and they don't have these conversations. And so, you know, I support what the Supreme Court did.”


Jill Ryan produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Peter O'Dowd. Serena McMahon adapted it for the web.

This segment aired on June 18, 2020.

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