NASHUA, N.H.—In the end, Joe Scarborough’s name wasn’t on the ballot for the presidential straw poll of the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference.
The organizers of this small, regional GOP meeting had planned to include him after his appearance on the event’s schedule caused a minor outbreak of Beltway buzz, chiefly a mention in Politico's daily Playbook newsletter. (Scarborough says he had nothing to do with it.) But MSNBC, the network that airs his show, Morning Joe, grew uneasy and prevailed on the organizers to get his name removed.
Here in New Hampshire, Scarborough, a former three-and-a-half-term Florida congressman who’s been openly flirting with getting back into politics, is telling me all this with an air of amusement. From a political standpoint, he regrets it a little. “I could have gotten some good press, you know?” he tells me. “The reception was good, I was signing some books. It was very positive.” Rand Paul ends up winning the straw poll, with Chris Christie a close second.
Nonetheless, at least among the consultant-class elites and political obsessives who are Morning Joe's target demographic, the idea of a Scarborough candidacy has gained some small amount of traction. And after all, why not? Plenty of candidates have used a presidential run in recent years as the springboard to a TV contract; surely it was only a matter of time until someone went in the other direction.
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The terms of the Scarborough’s bet with the impeccably moustachioed David Axelrod were: if Obama lost Minnesota, Michigan or Pennsylvania then David Axelrod would shave his moustache “of forty years” live on Morning Joe. But if Obama won Virginia or Florida then Scarborough would grow a moustache.