Former Congressman Joe Scarborough, R-Fla., is the host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” which airs for three hours weekdays starting at 6 a.m. Along with co-host Mika Brzezinski, “Morning Joe” features interviews with top newsmakers and in-depth analysis of the day’s biggest stories. Scarborough also serves as senior political analyst for NBC News and is a regular contributor on “Meet the Press.”
He is also a member of NBC News’ election coverage team, offering political analysis on other NBC News programs, including the “Today Show.” In past years, Scarborough’s name has appeared on the prestigious Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people, and Vanity Fair’s list of Top Media Power Players.
In addition to his distinguished career in politics and media, Scarborough has written three books, two of them New York Times best sellers. His most recent book, “The Right Path: From Ike to Reagan, How Republicans Once Mastered Politics – and Can Again” was released in 2013.
BizPacReview is honored to have Joe Scarborough participate in our Buzzworthy Interview series.
Q. “Morning Joe” has aired weekday mornings since May 9, 2007. When you first developed its chatty “around the coffee table” news format, could you ever have imagined that years later, the show would not only still be airing, but firmly entrenched as a respected platform for top political leaders?
A. I had no idea the show would last more than a few months, but Mika told me 10 minutes into the show that “Morning Joe” was going to be a success. I thought her saying that in the first commercial break was curious considering that no one at the time even thought I would be given a chance to replace Imus. I had met Mika the day before, barely knew Willie, and was running the three-hour show with a few people I had dragged over from “Scarborough Country.” But Mika told me immediately that in all her years on TV, she had never seen any news show move so quickly in so many different directions without notes or scripts, and that the show would break through the noise. As usual, she was right.
Q. Behind the scenes at MSNBC, what it is really like to be the only Republican media personality? Do you ever clash with some of the more liberal show hosts around the water cooler?
A. I rarely see other news hosts on MSNBC because Phil Griffin wisely decided years ago to separate us from the rest of the pack by putting us on the second floor. That said, there has never been a bad word said between any of the hosts and myself. Their worldview is obviously radically different than my own, but I’ve never had anything but positive personal interactions with the other hosts and their teammates.
Q. When you represented Florida’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S House of Representatives from Jan. 3, 1995, to Sept. 5, 2001, you earned an extremely high 94.6 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. Now, 14 years later, are you still as conservative or have you “evolved” on certain issues?
A. I’m just about as conservative today as I have always been. I voted as a conservative with libertarian leanings and that’s still where I am. Even in Congress, I was considered a bit of an independent thinker because I broke with the party on environmental issues and human rights causes. The only issue where there has been significant change has been on the issue of background checks for gun purchases. I think it makes sense to do our best to stop potential terrorists, domestic abusers and mentally ill people from getting their hands on guns. Most Americans agree with me.
Q. The latest direction of country poll indicates 63 percent of Americans believe that our nation is on the wrong track, while 28 percent believe it is headed in the right direction. Where do you stand on this poll question? Also, do you believe that our nation’s best days are behind us or still to come? If so, why?
A. Like Warren Buffet, I am bullish on America. The U.S. is headed in the right direction, even if Washington policy is dangerously shortsighted at home and abroad. This century is going to belong to the most talented, creative minds in the world and on that count, no one holds a candle to America. Steve Jobs was right. We Americans are a little crazy. It was that out-of-the-box thinking that made energy entrepreneurs find a new way to drill for oil and natural gas. That started an energy revolution that will make us the No. 1 producer of oil in the next few years. And they did it despite a hostile bureaucracy in Washington. We Americans also are still home to eight of the top 10 universities on the planet. And the immigrants who came to this country over the past half century helped launch a global revolution in places like Seattle and Silicon Valley. If Washington would get its act together and come up with a plan to pay down the debt, encourage economic growth, and lay out a more focused foreign policy, this century would surely be the next American Century.
Q. Are there any circumstances under which you would consider running for public office again? Perhaps an open Florida U.S. Senate seat in 2018 if Sen. Bill Nelson were to retire?
A. I’m under contract with NBC and Comcast for the next three years and I’m a Connecticut resident. So don’t look for me knocking on doors in Florida anytime soon.
Q. Do you have a 2016 Republican presidential “dream ticket” in mind who you believe could win at least 270 Electoral College votes?
A. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio both have the surest path to 270 electoral votes because of their track record attracting Hispanic voters to mark the ballot for Republicans. But I think there are a few others that could win as well. But as far as a dream ticket goes, I’d take Eisenhower on the top of the ticket with a naturalized Margaret Thatcher as his running mate. That would be my dream ticket.
Joe, on behalf of our readers, thank you for participating in this Buzzworthy interview.
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