In an election season marked by animosity, egos and insults, this feud transcends media, politics and state lines. It follows two men from the swamps of Florida politics to a presidential cycle in which Mr. Rubio, 44, has emerged as a leading candidate, and Mr. Scarborough, 52, as one of his fiercest critics.
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On the surface, the fight seems to be a classic case of a celebrity host being snubbed and his feelings being hurt: Mr. Rubio has appeared on “Morning Joe” just once since becoming a senator.
While Mr. Rubio has boycotted the program, its hosts have derided him for everything from his fashion choices (“shagalicious”) to his lack of legislative accomplishments, producing the kind of memorable moments that have taken off on social media.
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But many of Mr. Rubio’s allies, and even some pundits, view Mr. Scarborough’s distaste for him as driven by something more elemental: envy.
“Almost every election cycle since Joe left Congress, there is talk that he should run for U.S. Senate, governor, or something else,” said Brian Crowley, a former Florida political reporter, adding that after Mr. Rubio became the Florida House speaker, “he started crowding that space.” Mr. Scarborough is a former Republican congressman from the state’s panhandle.
Mr. Rubio and Mr. Scarborough have never actually met. But, as Mr. Crowley noted, Mr. Scarborough was known to think highly of Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, and had ties to Charlie Crist, whom Mr. Rubio defeated in the 2010 Senate race.
Mr. Scarborough dismissed such talk. “I don’t know Marco well enough to resent him,” he said. “I am paid to be an analyst, a political analyst, to tell viewers and influencers what my take is on the political system.”
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