Last night The Hill‘s Bob Cusack published a piece claiming Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), has been courting MSNBC host Joe Scarborough to run against Bill Nelson (D-FL) in the upcoming Florida Senate race. The article, written following an interview, claimed Cornyn has twice approached “Morning Joe” about a potential bid and quoted him saying, “I’d be delighted to talk to him a third time.”
But it seems the Senator may have said too much because this morning the NRSC and Cornyn challenged Cusack’s reporting. Both denied the story’s validity via telephone and Twitter:
And it worked. Bloggers and journalists took Cornyn’s word, writing that rumors had been “squashed.” National Journal even sent the below email alert:
SAY IT AIN’T JOE. Let’s be very clear: former Florida Rep. and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough is not running for Senate, and Republicans aren’t courting him. Asked by a reporter whether the television host’s name had come up, National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman John Cornyn, R-Texas, said it had, but Republican officials say they’re not counting on Scarborough to take on Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. Instead, expect a raucous primary on the GOP side. State Senate President Mike Haridopolos is, at the moment, dominating the spotlight and the fundraising circuit.
But this gloomy story of Washington spin has a silver lining. Scarborough responded to Cusack’s request for comment this afternoon and made Cornyn look the fool:
“John suggested last month that I consider running for the Senate against Bill Nelson. His intent was clear and unambiguous and echoed his quotes in The Hill. However, I love the job I have and have no intention of running for the Senate,” Scarborough told The Hill.
Cornyn FAIL. Point Cusack. And kudos to Joe! That’s exactly the kind of honesty we need in a representative.
UPDATE: The gloves are off. The drama between The Hill, Joe Scarborough, Sen. John Cornyn and the NRSC is getting nasty. Read the latest after the jump.
In response to Scarborough’s quote in The Hill, NRSC executive director Rob Jesmer released the following statement:
“In his past conversations with Senator Cornyn, Joe Scarborough had expressed an interest in perhaps running for a U.S. Senate seat in New York. To quote Joe’s own words today, his intent was ‘clear and unambiguous’ and we took him at his word that his interest was, and is, in New York. So not only did Senator Cornyn not ask him to run for the Senate in Florida, but for a number of reasons it stretches the bounds of credulity to even see why he would be considered a strong, viable candidate in Florida this cycle. There are already a number of far stronger candidates looking at the Florida Senate race and we are confident that any one of them can beat Bill Nelson in 2012. But we wish Joe the best of luck in his New York Senate pursuits and we remain fans of his cable show.”
To which Scarborough responded:
“This morning I read that John Cornyn was going to ask me to run for Senate ‘for the third time.’ There is no need. I have no interest in such a campaign. Judging from the NRSC’s bizarre behavior today, his comments obviously upset potential Florida candidates. I too would have preferred that he said nothing about his efforts to have me run for the Senate. I have no desire being part of this story and once again let me state that I have no interest in running for the US Senate.”
FishbowlDC contacted the NRSC who told us: “The Hill was told last night in no uncertain terms that they had this story wrong but in their rush to try to report something first, they unfortunately weren’t concerned with getting it right. As for Joe’s statements, we’ll leave it others to ascertain his motives, but Rob Jesmer’s statement speaks for itself.”