Republican Gov. Phil Scott on Wednesday declined an opportunity to endorse Republican President Donald Trump for reelection in 2020. During his weekly press conference, Scott did not utter the name "Donald Trump." But in a series of brief answers to press inquiries, he implicitly rejected Trump as his party's 2020 standard-bearer.
When asked if he had a preference in the next election, Scott replied, "I do not have a candidate I favor for 2020."
Asked if he would like to see a competitive Republican primary, Scott said, "It wouldn't bother me." When asked if a contested primary would be a good thing, he said, "From my standpoint, I think it would be." He would not suggest any alternative candidates.
Scott refused to endorse Trump in 2016. Since then, Scott has repeatedly distanced himself from the president, sometimes drawing the ire of VTGOP loyalists for doing so.
Scott's criticism has often focused on Trump's style. "Leaders should unite, not divide," Scott said, during the final debate of his reelection campaign. He has drawn a contrast between the rough-and-tumble of national politics and his own efforts to maintain an atmosphere of civility in Montpelier. He has differed with Trump on numerous issues as well.
In 2017, Scott signed a bill that set limits on state or local law enforcement agencies' participation in federal immigration-enforcement actions. He has been critical of Trump's hard line on the issue and opposed the separation of immigrant families at the border with Mexico. He also slammed Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords. And he refused to sign a Republican Governors Association letter endorsing Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to serve as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.