WASHINGTON — As Israel faced pressure all week to accept a cease-fire with the militant group Hamas, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., was not among those urging Israel to stand down.
"I’m going to call out Hamas for what they are; they are a terrorist organization,” Scott said in a broad-ranging interview with Spectrum News on Thursday. “What they are doing is despicable. I’m going to stand for Israel.”
What You Need To Know
- "I'm going to stand for Israel," Sen. Rick Scott says of battle with Hamas
- The senator opposes Sen. Bernie Sanders' bid to block U.S. sale of weapons to Israel
- The Republican says he'll vote against a commission to investigate the U.S. Capitol attack
- Scott says he has no problem with ex-president Donald Trump's involvement in 2022 campaign
Israel and Hamas announced a cease-fire Thursday, ending an 11-day deadly war. Scott maintains Israel had every right to defend itself.
“Your heart will go out, whether they are in Gaza or they are in Israel. Nobody wants to see the loss of life,” Scott said.
"Hamas sends rockets into Israel and doesn’t give any Israelis any warning. Israel, when they wanted to shoot down a building, they told everyone to get out first. There’s no moral equivalency here.”
Scott slammed a new resolution, introduced by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Thursday, that seeks to stop the U.S. sale of $736 million in weapons to Israel.
"It seems like they are siding with Hamas,” Scott said. “I don’t believe it’s going to pass. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it doesn’t pass.”
Scott spoke to Spectrum News a day after Democrats in the House of Representatives, joined by 35 Republicans, voted to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The bill faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, where it needs 10 yes votes by Republicans. Scott made clear he will not be one of them.
“I completely oppose it,” Scott said. “The FBI is doing their job. They have already arrested people for breaking into the Capitol. What people did that day — I was here — is despicable. They need to be held accountable, the FBI is doing their job. We don’t need a commission where people will act in a partisan manner.”
Scott said he believes the commission would be political, even though lawmakers of both parties would be involved.
"It always ends up like that. What value are they going to add?” Scott added. “If you look at the way it would be set up, the staff would be chosen by the chairperson, so it would be very partisan.”
Former President Donald Trump on Thursday sharply criticized Republicans who support creating the commission, the latest example of the former commander-in-chief trying to influence the direction of the party, after being voted out of office.
Scott, who runs the campaign arm of the Senate GOP, said he does not see any problems with the former president’s involvement.
“I want everybody to get involved to help us win races,” Scott said. “Everybody that has a following, I want them to help us win races. We have 20 Republican seats that we have to defend, 14 Democrat seats that we have a chance of taking.”
Scott also said he tries to stay out of primaries and encourages others to do so as well.
“I don’t get involved in primaries,” Scott said. “What I recommend to everyone is let the primary happen, let the voters pick their candidates, then get involved after that.”