ORLANDO, Fla. — Vice President Mike Pence formally endorsed Florida Governor Rick Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign.
- The vice president is backing Rick Scott for U.S. Senate race
- Scott faces off against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson
- Learn more about the candidates here
However, he will not attend the GOP rally that kicked off the campaign on Thursday in Orlando.
The pair appeared together in front of a crowd of approximately 100 state republican donors at a luncheon on Thursday at a downtown Orlando hotel.
“We know Rick Scott is going to bring that principled leadership to the United States Senate from day one,” Pence said.
Scott is looking to unseat three-term Democratic incumbent Senator Bill Nelson.
A recent Quinnipiac Poll shows Nelson and Scott are virtually tied in the race, each with 49 percent support.
The poll shows Nelson leads among Democrats (89%-8%) and independents (56%-43%), while Scott leads among Republicans (92%-7%).
Recent federal finance records show Scott has raised $31.1 million since announcing his run -- an amount that includes $14 million that Scott lent his campaign. Records show he has already spent $27.7 million in what is likely to be a costly election.
Nelson spent just $17 million during his 2012 reelection bid. This year he’s raised $19.7 million but has spent just $6.1 million.
Florida Republicans are relying heavily on the White House to help garner support in their effort to win races during the November elections.
During Thursday’s luncheon fundraiser, Vice President Mike Pence gave high praise to several Republican candidates, including gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis and Scott.
“Gov. Rick Scott made historic investments in education, infrastructure, and the environment, and he’s going to bring the same quality leadership and vision to the United States Senate,” Pence said.
The White House effect
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam lost a lead in the GOP race for governor after President Donald Trump publicly endorsed Putnam’s opponent, Congressman Ron DeSantis. The presidential seal of approval launched DeSantis into the lead and ultimately capturing the GOP nomination.
Despite a series of public endorsements and tweets of praise from President Trump, Scott also appears to be treading lightly on showcasing his close relationship with the president.
During a July visit to Tampa, the governor joined the president at a Tampa-area school, but later skipped out on a campaign event for then gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.
Sen. Nelson took notice at the time, saying in July: “I think my opponent considers Trump a liability, and that’s why he’s not showing up with him at the political rally.”
- RELATED STORY: Gov. Scott Treads The Trump Effect Carefully in Tampa
Scott has distanced himself from mainstream Republican stances on several issues, reported Spectrum News’ Washington Correspondent Samantha-Jo Roth.
Alex Conant, a Republican political strategist who served as a spokesman for Senator Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign told Roth in July that Scott will have to walk a delicate line come November.
“This midterm election will be very much about Donald Trump, because Donald Trump is such a big part of our politics right now,” Conant said. “The president is the leader of the party. If they win, they are going to work with him. I don’t think running away from Donald Trump is a viable strategy.”
Vice President Mike Pence told supporters on Thursday that he and President Donald Trump “will be here time and time again.”