Rick Scott on Bill Nelson: ‘He shouldn’t be saying these things’

The governor says his opponent's hacking claim has caused 'chaos and confusion.'
Gov. Rick Scott on Fox News []
Gov. Rick Scott on Fox News []
Published Aug. 22, 2018|Updated Aug. 22, 2018

Gov. Rick Scott attacked Sen. Bill Nelson as "reckless" Wednesday for saying Florida's election system has been infiltrated by Russians.

Appearing on Fox News, Scott blasted Nelson, who has said Russians have "free rein" in Florida, a claim refuted by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in a letter the state released Tuesday.

Here's a link to the Scott interview.

"My opponent is either confused (or) dishonest, releasing classified information," Scott said, parroting the talking points that his campaign released in a statement a day earlier. "And we've worked hard to make sure people feel comfortable with our election system."

In fact, Scott's administration has been criticized by a federal judge over the state's past refusal to allow early voting on college campuses — a ban that's no longer in existence in this election cycle.

All U.S. senators are getting a closed-door briefing Wednesday from federal security officials on election security.

"My opponent, for whatever reason, has caused chaos, confusion," Scott told Fox. "It's reckless what he said. We're right in the middle of our primary. He shouldn't be saying these things."

For the record, here is a transcript of Nelson's first statements on the subject, at a veterans' appearance on Aug. 7 in Tallahassee. (He spoke in greater detail on the subject the following morning at a Tampa appearance, and a YouTube clip of part of Nelson's Tallahassee remarks is here).

Q.: Do you share Senator Rubio's concern that there's still an issue with county elections officials not taking the threat of meddling seriously enough?

Nelson: Yes. You want me to expand?

Q.: Yes, sir.

Nelson: Senator Rubio is a member of the Intelligence Committee. I'm the ranking member of the Cyber Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Russians are in Florida's election records. That's why, at the urging, I might say, of the chairman and vice chairman of the Intel Committee, we wrote and signed the joint letter to all 67 county supervisors of elections, to tell them that the Russians are in Florida's records, and they need help and they can get that help free of charge from the Department of Homeland Security that will come in  and help secure their database and their election records. But it's got to be at their initiative to do that."

Q.: Do you know what records the Russians are meddling around with?

Nelson: That's classified.

Fox cited a Real Clear Politics average of polls in the Senate race that shows Scott with a 1-point lead, 45.5 percent to 44.3 percent. (Scott won both of his races for governor by 1 percentage point). Scott repeated his goals of requiring term limits for members of Congress and a two-thirds vote to increase taxes, as well as the line-item veto.

Asked to react to Paul Manafort's conviction and Michael Cohen's guilty plea Tuesday, Scott said: "No one's above the law. We need to know all the facts. With the Mueller investigation, I think all of us would like to get all the facts out there. We'd like to get it behind us."