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Politics in Pieces: MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Co-Hosts Share Election Insight at the 2016 NAA Capitol Conference

NAA Capitol Conference

The race for the presidency is a mess.

It’s as simple—and as troubling—as that, according to Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’S Morning Joe, who shared her thoughts on the election year at NAA’s Capitol Conference.

Despite their vast political differences, co-host and former Florida Congressman Joe Scarborough agrees with Brzezinski, a liberal from the Northeast.

“My Republican party has been shattered into pieces this year,” Scarborough told attendees. “It’s been torn to shreds.”

At the center of the Republican party’s dismantling? No surprise, it’s Donald Trump.

“You’ve got a candidate who is running away with the Republican race because there are so many in it, and an establishment in D.C. that just will not accept this guy,” Scarborough said.

In the Democratic race, Scarborough said the only difference between the races of Bernie Sanders and Trump is that Sanders is alone against Hillary Clinton. Conversely, a crowded playing field in the Republican Party could force a brokered convention—the first since 1976.

A conservative from the Deep South, Scarborough despised former President Bill Clinton.

“He’s like a Beach Boys song—everyone’s met this guy,” Scarborough joked. “He dominates a room and his hands are everywhere. He doesn’t care if you’re a man or a woman; he’s gonna feel you up. I was seduced; I’ll admit it.”

Still, Scarborough said Clinton’s presidency marked an era of forward progress for the country that is absent in today’s political climate.

“Even during the impeachment, [Bill] said to Congress, ‘We are working together,’” Scarborough said. “We had a Democratic president who couldn’t stand the Republican Congress and vice versa, yet we balanced the budget for the first time in a generation and created 22 million jobs that decade. People put the best interests of the country ahead of their political parties.”

Scarborough cited the unlikely friendship between former President Ronald Reagan and Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill as another example of both sides of the aisles working together for the common good.

“Reagan and O’Neill had a rule,” Scarborough said. “We will fight like Hell during the day, but at 6 p.m. we’re friends. “There are times where guard rails have to go up and there are no guard rails in American politics today. That’s why everyone’s vote means so much in 2016.”

If asked to vote today, Scarborough said he would elect John Kasich, the Republican Governor of Ohio. However, he said his ideal candidate was Jeb Bush.

“Republicans are disconnected from the people who have voted for them,” he said.

Despite “feeling the Bern,” Brzezinski said her vote will likely go to former Secretary of State Clinton.

“I do have some struggles with [Hillary’s] campaign,” admitted Brzezinski, bestselling author and daughter of former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. “If it were Clinton versus Kasich, I would have a hard time deciding.”

Regardless of the outcome, Scarborough said the country will see an Independent president in the next decade. The role of social media, in particular, has made it unnecessary to have strong political party ties.

“One Trump tweet against Bill Clinton dropped Bill’s approval rating from 51 percent to 39 percent,” Scarborough said. “That’s incredible.”

Although Scarborough anticipates a victory for Clinton come November, he cautioned the audience with advice from conservative commentator William F. Buckley: “Never debate with an amateur, they’ll kill you every time.”

Trump may be the amateur, but the American people will have the final say.

“In the end,” Scarborough said, “demographics are destiny.”


Lauren Boston, Staff Writer and Manager, Public Relations at NAA. Read more of Lauren's coverage of the NAA Capitol Conference and Lobby Day in the April issue of Units Magazine.