The following is a transcript of an interview with Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida that aired on Sunday, October 2, 2022.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We now turn to Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott, who joins us from Naples. Good morning to you, Senator.
SEN. RICK SCOTT: Good morning, it’s very difficult down here, it’s an incredible loss of life. And we still have people who hope they are alive and who are still trying to rescue. So pray for each one of them.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will, and I know that when she was governor of Florida, there were four hurricanes under her command. Governor DeSantis has said that what is happening now is biblical. How would you describe the impact?
SEN. SCOTT: Well, the storm surge was unbelievable, you know, the worst, the worst storm surge we had with Irma was in the Keys. And alone, she was nine feet tall. She just absorbs everything in and out of a one-story house. And then we had, as you know, Mexico beach with Michael, my senior year. But, you know, in Lee County, they’re talking, they could have had 18 feet of storm surge on Sanibel. And you look at, you know, 12-15 feet of storm surge from Fort Myers Beach and Pine Island, I mean, that’s hard to survive, you have to be pretty, you have to get up pretty high, and your structure has to survive. Unfortunately, some of its construction is older. And so we lost a lot, a lot of buildings.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The president said he may need more money from Congress to help with the response. And I know that you and Senator Rubio have talked about the need for more emergency aid. If you are calling in an emergency, is there an additional charge? Compensation?
SEN. SCOTT: Well, I have supported disaster relief. And look, everything you do, you’d love to get paid for. But you know, we’ve made commitments, we’ve made commitments, and we’re going to help our families, our businesses, our state and local governments, and as a federal government, we need to do our job. Now. We have to see how we spend our money. So always try to find out how you pay for things. But I am very supportive of FEMA. My experience with FEMA and myself as governor is that they did their job. They were a good partner. They are not a lead agency. There is a Support Agency, and they acted like this when I was governor.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But the disaster modeling companies have, you know, a damage scale here of 30 billion to 100 billion. How much money do you think you need to go ask Congress?
SEN. SCOTT: Hopefully, we’ll find that most things are covered by insurance. That’s what you expect. Now Florida has had a problem in recent years with its homeowners insurance market. So hopefully insurance companies will be able to cover much of that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But not floods?
SEN. SCOTT: But you’ll see how this has worked out while I was governor. Yes absolutely. Right. And that’s one of the themes. Florida has been a major flood donor state. Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t have flood insurance, either because they didn’t know they needed to buy flood insurance or because it became too expensive. So we have to have insurance products, that job that people can afford. And that’s what they have to try to continue building the private market for flood insurance. And I was governor to try to make sure that people can get flood insurance and can afford flood insurance. Because you’re right, a lot of that is not covered. If not, it is not covered by the normal policy. It is covered by a flood insurance policy. And yesterday I was in Kissimmee, and there was a flood there. And they weren’t in a floodplain, no one was told to get flood insurance, and they probably had about a foot of water in their homes, and they were in complete shock.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I mean, the bottom line though, Senator, is that some of the communities have been so hard to hit that you need to take a second look here, I mean, maybe some of them shouldn’t be rebuilt. , due to the level of risk of extreme weather.
SEN. SCOTT: What I think you have to look at, look at if you build in places, I think these places are places where people want to live in their beautiful places. So what you really have to do is say, ‘I’m going to build, but I’m going to do it safely.’ After Andrew in 1992, the state completely changed its building codes, dramatically reducing the risk of damage. While I was governor, we improved our building codes. And I think after this, we’re going to learn that we’re going to have to improve, continue to improve our building codes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, before I let you go, I have a broader question because you know, disasters are times when people can come together. And our country is incredibly divided. I know you know. Over the weekend, we heard some pretty disturbing rhetoric from the former president who tweeted that Senator McConnell wants to die. He said some racist things about his wife, former Cabinet Secretary Elaine Chao. Last night at her rally, Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene made a false claim that Democrats want Republicans dead and, quote unquote, the killings have already started. Given the level of security threat at the moment. Would you rebuke those comments?
SEN. SCOTT: But I think what we need to do is get everybody together. I would also say it would be the other way around. Harris said yesterday that our day before yesterday, you know if you have a different skin color, you’re going to feel relief.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s not what the vice president said. He talked about equity and the problem within FEMA. But I’m specifically talking about Marjorie Taylor Greene.
SEN. SCOTT: No, no, no. Wait, wait, Margaret. Margaret, let’s make sure. FEMA has to be colorblind. FEMA has to support everyone. Now, this is what I’m going to tell you, I think we have to do. President Trump has spoken about this incredible spending that is causing inflation to hurt the poorest families. I grew up in a poor family. I watched him play should it hurt my mom. We have a house, she looks at how we spend this money. I know, you’re talking.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I know sir. You’re talking about substance, and I’d love to talk to you about that. But what I quoted you as a phrase that says that McConnell has a death wish. He said racist things about Elaine Chao. And then the killings have already begun. I mean, that’s not a political dispute, Senator, language is what I’m talking about. Isn’t that dangerous?
SEN. SCOTT: I think we all have to figure out how we start to bring people together and have a common goal to give every American the opportunity to get a great job, get their kids an education, believe they can be anything and make sure that all Live in safe committee. That’s what I do every day. And I’ve tried to bring people together to do that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And would you agree that language doesn’t bring people together?
SEN. SCOTT: I think what I think President Trump was talking about is the fact that we can’t keep spending money. We are going to hurt our poorest families the most with this reckless spending by the Democrats and we cannot stop it. We cannot give in to your expenses.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. That’s not what the former president said. And Coco Chow was the phrase he used to refer to a former cabinet secretary, Elaine Chao.
SEN. SCOTT: He looks, he likes, you know, he calls people names. I’m sure you have a nickname for me. Good. So you can ask him what he means by his nicknames, what do I want to make sure I can do what I can do. I can do my best to bring people together and I will try to bring people together.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, but I know, Senator, you know that the Democrats haven’t started murdering the Republicans yet like Marjorie Taylor Greene has said.
SEN. SCOTT: I didn’t see what he said. But she also doesn’t help what the vice president says when she thinks celebrities will treat people differently based on the color of their skin.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll have the administrator on the show to talk about equity. But the killings have already begun that really caught my attention. So I wanted to make sure you responded to that comment. We’ll leave it there. Thank you and good luck.
SEN. SCOTT: I didn’t hear it. We need to unite people. Please play pray for our state.