Joe Scarborough says he isn't running for president or any other office.
“Well, not for a while,” he told TVNewser in July.
That's not a very definitive statement. And if the former Republican congressman were to get back on the campaign trail, his stump speech about gun control would probably sound a lot like what he said Tuesday on his MSNBC show, “Morning Joe.”
“I’m a Second Amendment guy. I believe that Heller was passed properly,” Scarborough said, referring to a landmark Supreme Court decision that deemed a ban on handgun ownership unconstitutional. “There are quite a few people in this audience that’ll disagree with me. I think the Second Amendment means what the Second Amendment means: It means that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms, to have weapons in their home, to be able to protect their families.”
“I don’t think the Second Amendment means what liberals think the Second Amendment means,” Scarborough continued, rejecting the argument that the amendment's phrasing ("A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed") ties gun ownership to military service. “It means you have a right to keep and bear arms. But I also believe what a majority of members of the NRA believe: These weapons are not needed.”
By “these weapons,” Scarborough meant the kind of semiautomatic rifles found in the Las Vegas hotel room from which Stephen Paddock shot dead 59 people and wounded more than 500 others Sunday. Such guns can be modified to fire automatically, spraying bullet after bullet with a single trigger pull. Investigators believe at least one of Paddock's guns functioned as a fully automatic rifle.
Polls consistently show that most National Rifle Association members support universal background checks and restrictions on gun ownership by convicted criminals, but most do not back a ban on semiautomatic rifles, as Scarborough claimed.
Scarborough, a contributor to The Washington Post's opinion page, has sought to tamp down speculation that he is positioning himself for a White House bid — without explicitly ruling it out.
Here's a bit of what New York magazine's Olivia Nuzzi wrote in July, when she profiled Scarborough and co-host/fiancee Mika Brzezinski:
And those sources in the White House believe the shift in tone on “Morning Joe” reflects a combination of frustration at being shut out of Trump’s orbit and simple jealousy — Scarborough has always been thought to have presidential aspirations. “He wanted to be president, and he’s not. And, of all people, Donald Trump is. This is crazy,” a second senior White House official said. ...
Scarborough and Brzezinski said the White House is misrepresenting their motivations, though they didn’t rule out that Scarborough might be interested in running for president in the future.
After Nuzzi's piece ran, Fix founder Chris Cillizza, now at CNN, wrote that “if you wanted to run for president in 2020, you'd be doing exactly what Joe Scarborough is doing right now.”
Nuzzi, however, disagreed.
Whether Scarborough is thinking about 2020 or not, his political ambitions are worth monitoring (especially if you're wagering on the matter). And his comments Tuesday offer a glimpse of what one plank in his platform could look like.