WESTVILLE — With the animated repartee and timing of a standup comedian, Joe Scarborough, the face of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and former Florida congressman, opened the 64th season of the Purdue University Northwest Sinai Forum on Sunday afternoon.
Upholding his reputation for candor and outspokenness, Scarborough’s primary message was that the country’s challenges can be solved only if members of Congress work together in a bipartisan fashion.
“We can also disagree with each other politically and still work together,” Scarborough said. “Why can’t they do that anymore?”
Scarborough cited the “6 o’clock rule” used by former President Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, former speaker of the House of Representatives.
“They fought like hell all day, and at 6 o’clock, they became friends,” Scarborough said. “They’d get on the phone at 6 o’clock and then they’d apologize. Sometimes Tip O’Neill would go to the White House and those two old Irish politicians would do what Irish politicians have done for centuries — they’d drink and tell tall tales and joke around. Most importantly, they would form this friendship.”
Scarborough said President Donald Trump won the election “for several reasons,” one of which was that Hillary Clinton “wasn’t a good general election candidate,” because she’s “not a very good politician.”
“She makes the same fatal mistake every time she runs for office,” Scarborough said. “She surrounds herself with people who are afraid to tell her the truth. It’s the political kiss of death.”
Although he cautioned that “we have to be careful not to read too much into the election,” Scarborough said he believes the outcome was a result of Americans being “sick and tired of business as usual in Washington, D.C.”
“We are sick of people promising to change things, and they go to Washington and then they are changed by Washington, D.C.,” Scarborough said.
Scarborough advocated for a bipartisan effort to “rebuild our country,” including a “$20 trillion debt,” health care reform and education.
“We have so many challenges and so many problems,” Scarborough said. “If we get people in Washington, D.C., as good as the country they represent, we’ll be fine.”
Referencing his announcement in July, when he said he was leaving the Republican Party to become an Independent, Scarborough said he was “tired of defending stupid.” He predicted that the country will elect an Independent president “sooner rather than later.”
During an entertaining, post-presentation question-and-answer session, Scarborough used his cellphone to call his “Morning Joe” co-host and fiancee, Mika Brzezinski, at the request of Indiana state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, who was in the audience.
“I got a guy here that wants to date you,” Scarborough said to Brzezinski, who was getting a facial. "Charlie’s putting his hands towards heaven right now.”
“Can I have your number?” Brown shouted from the floor.
Scarborough said the century will be “won by the country that has the best technology, the best science and the best innovation,” and the United States is primed to be that winner because “we’re a little crazy — we think differently.”
“We can do anything, and our country can grow — but we have to fix Washington, D.C.,” Scarborough said. “We start by electing people that aren’t afraid of mean tweets. Like Mika, she’s not afraid of mean tweets. She laughs at mean tweets, she’s tough.
"And people who are not afraid to work with the people at the other side of the aisle.”