Testing the holy waters: Rick Scott heads to Iowa to meet with pastors as 2024 looms over horizon

The Florida Republican senator, who has found himself at odds with Mitch McConnell this year, is heading to first presidential caucus state to powwow with the party base.

Updated: July 10, 2022 - 2:52pm

Next week, Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott will headline a luncheon for evangelical ministry leaders and their spouses in Iowa, the nation's first presidential caucus state.

Sponsored by the Iowa Renewal Project, a branch of the American Renewal Project, the event is billed as a "time of fellowship, prayer, and encouragement" for faith leaders in Iowa.

A former governor of Florida elected to the Senate in 2018, Scott is the current head of the the Natonal Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate Republican campaign arm. He has striven to make a national name for himself this year with the release of his 12-point Rescue America plan, which features goals such as reintroducing patriotism into public schools, ending racial politics, and completing and naming the border wall after former President Donald J. Trump.

Scott's ideas have drawn fire from some, praise from others within the GOP. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Scott publicly clashed over the plan earlier this year. The longtime GOP leader, who is running the midterm elections as a referendum on the Biden presidency and agenda, noted that certain elements of Scott's plan, like raising taxes for some and sunsetting Social Security, would certainly not be incorporated into the GOP Senate agenda any time soon.

But Scott is marching to the beat of his own drum, which has now led him to Iowa, a state that all candidates mulling presidential bids find time to visit. Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton was shaking hands at diners in the Hawkeye State just this week.

American Renewal Project founder and President David Lane says Scott has already demonstrated something of a commitment to the evangelical community, as evidenced by his support of a 2011 "day of prayer and fasting for our nation's challenges." At the time, Scott was governor of Florida, and Lane had helped assemble "The Response," an event hosted in Texas by then-GOP Gov. Rick Perry to pray for the nation. Perry invited all 49 other governors. Only a handful, including Scott, accepted and issued similar proclamations in their own states.

Since then, Lane has kept an eye on Scott and says that although the lawmaker does not "lead with" his faith, he is a born again Christian with a competitive, business-friendly track record as the leader of Florida who is now proposing ideas that all sorts of Americans should be able to get behind.

In Lane's view, the Republican Party has had some meaningful leaders over the last quarter-century — none more so than former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Lane's admiration for Scott comes as no surprise, given the similarities the latter's "Plan to Rescue America" bears to Gingrich's "Contract with America," which nationalized the 1994 midterm elections and helped Republicans retake the House for the first time in four decades.

Gingrich himself endorsed Scott's plan in February, calling it "a proposal which sets the stage for a real choice of which future Americans want their country to achieve."

Scott's forthcoming excursion to Iowa, where more than 6 in 10 GOP caucus-goers identify as evangelical, could be viewed as a beckoning from a faith community in search of a leader who will fight for Judeo-Christian principles in all aspects of lawmaking.

Tamara Scott, national committeewoman of the Republican Party of Iowa, told Just the News that evangelical Christians and Catholics are always on the lookout for a leader whose views and actions correspond with a "biblically based culture."

Christians, she said, are "watching the political landscape and looking for someone" they believe will best represent their values — whether they are vetting GOP presidential hopefuls or mulling who should be in line to lead the Senate GOP caucus.

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