Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough on his politics: "I used to be considered conservative"
When I first met Joe Scarborough back in 2003, he was fighting MSNBC's efforts to turn him into a clone of Bill O'Reilly and wondering if he could find a voice for his own brand of smart alecky conservatism - where he was more likely to make fun of political opponents than attack them.
Now, a lifetime later and host of a show where his humor and willingness to talk, talk, talk and talk some more has found success -- MSNBC's A.M. political salon Morning Joe -- Scarborough came to St. Petersburg today to bask in the success of an approach only he thought might work for a while.
"Like Jeb Bush, I used to be considered conservative," said Scarborough, who served in Congress in the mid-'90s from the Florida Panhandle, as part of a rush of Republicans elected under Newt Gingrich's plan to bring GOP dominance to the U.S. House. "Now a lot of people saying Jeb’s too moderate. People call me a RINO – Republican In Name Only."
My colleague Colette Bancroft will write a much more comprehensive report on Scarborough's appearance today at the Hilton in Carillon Park, which was arranged as part of a fundraiser for the Poynter Institute (which owns my employer, the Tampa Bay Times). But I just wanted to catch up with Scarborough, who was only beginning to sense in 2003 the kind of show he's eventually hosting now.
And he said being the GOP guy at a liberal cable channel visiting the Republican National Convention is fun for one reason.
Now people realize he was right.
"Over the past few years. I was very critical of the Bush administration," he said. "It’s always difficult when you’re a Republican -- or a Democrat -- criticizing a president who is in your party. The things I was criticizing George Bush about six or seven years ago, were big deficits and out of control foreign policy, passing a big drug benefit without paying for it. That was considered treasonous six or seven years ago. Now everybody’s starting to say it. They’ve gotten far enough away from Bush that I’m not the enemy for saying back then, what they’re all saying now. So we got a real warm reception on the floor this year.”