It didn’t look like a coincidence. Several days before President Donald J. Trump called for moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Gov. Rick Scott made a similar declaration, and for the first time publicly.
The governor followed up his Nov. 29 announcement with a video press release Wednesday in Israel, where he has led a 70-member trade mission promoting closer business and cultural ties between the state and Israel.
“This is a great day,” Scott says on the 30-second video clip, with First Lady Ann Scott by his side. “I stand with Israel. I stand with all the citizens of Israel.”
“The governor’s unwavering support of Israel has been very well documented,” said Scott spokesman McKinley Lewis. “This trip was planned months ago.”
The trip, yes. But the announcement? Lewis said that Scott’s office did not receive a heads-up from the White House in advance of its Wednesday announcement, which Trump called the fulfillment of a campaign promise.
Scott is closely eyeing a U.S. Senate bid in 2018, and Florida has a very large Jewish population. Scott’s would-be rival, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, released a statement that declared, “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The U.S. embassy will remain in Tel Aviv for now and the United States should continue to do its part to help bring about a secure and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians through a two-state resolution.”
Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem risks escalating tensions in the Middle East, and the proposal is highly controversial in Muslim countries, who view it as “naked aggression,” The Associated Press reports.
Scott and his party are returning to Tallahassee later Thursday, his office said.
The governor does not plan to accompany the president Friday night in Pensacola, which is in the same TV market as Mobile, Ala., at a rally to promote Roy Moore’s Senate candidacy.