Rep. Scalise: Socialism will be the 'prevailing theme' of the 2020 election

PHOTO: President Donald Trump reacts on stage formally kicking off his re-election bid with a campaign rally in Orlando, Fla., June 18, 2019. PlayCarlos Barria/Reuters
WATCH News headlines today: July 16, 2019

President Donald Trump has "a great story to tell" about the strength of the U.S. economy, and his embrace of "freedom" over socialism, House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise told ABC News’ Powerhouse Politics Podcast.

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Scalise spoke to Powerhouse Politics Podcast hosts Rick Klein and Mary Bruce on Wednesday, the day after President Trump’s fiery campaign kickoff Tuesday in Orlando.

"The president's got a great story to tell, and it was really good to see such an enthusiastic packed house," Scalise said, adding that the contrast between the "Bernie Sanders version of government control" versus "freedom" would be "a prevailing theme in next year's election."

PHOTO: Rep Steve Scalise makes a play to first base resulting in an out after fielding a ground ball on the first pitch of the Congressional Baseball Game, June 14, 2018, in Washington, DC. Alex Edelman/Getty Images, FILE
Rep Steve Scalise makes a play to first base resulting in an out after fielding a ground ball on the first pitch of the Congressional Baseball Game, June 14, 2018, in Washington, DC.

"He's... talking about what you're seeing on the far left, how they're moving toward socialism," Scalise said.

Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, also defended Trump’s combative rhetoric, saying that it was indicative of the president’s “rough and tumble” business background.

When pressed on whether he has urged the president to tone down his combative rhetoric, Scalise said, "everybody needs to tone it down and be aware of their rhetoric."

“There's no place for inciting violence or for carrying out acts of violence because you disagree with somebody’s political views,” said Scalise, alluding to his own experiences with the consequences of hate speech.

In 2017, the Congressman nearly lost his life when he was shot in the hip during a practice for the annual Congressional Baseball Game. The gunman, James Hodgkinson, was a left-wing activist who frequently made aggressive posts on social media platforms targeting Republican lawmakers.

Scalise went on to write the book “Back in the Game: One Gunman, Countless Heroes, and the Fight for My Life,” detailing the event, the violent consequences stemming from hate speech, and his road to recovery.

When asked about the President’s claim to have a Republican health care plan in the works, Scalise stated that the public could “absolutely” expect a detailed proposal before the upcoming election.

“[The President] feels very strong that the plan we put out needs to be focused on… lowering health care costs for families, restoring that doctor patient relationship, and protecting people with preexisting conditions so that they can't be discriminated against in pricing,” said Scalise.

On the topic of a possible impeachment inquiry, the Congressman stated that such an action would be “counterproductive and dangerous.” Quoting the President, Scalise referred to the growing Democratic push towards impeachment as an “obsession” and a “mad…witch hunt.”

“Just because you lost in 2016 doesn't mean you can just focus on... harassing the person that that won,” Scalise told ABC.

Despite growing tensions between Congressional Republicans and Democrats as 2020 approaches, Scalise told ABC he was excited to “come together and do something really positive” with his Democratic colleagues in the upcoming Congressional Baseball Game.

Scalise is expected to face off against the Democrats—notably his friend and Democratic opponent Rep. Cedric Richmond—in the charity game next week. Still recovering from injuries in 2017, Scalise expressed his excitement to finally get “Back in the Game.”

Powerhouse Politics podcast is a weekly program that posts every Wednesday, and includes headliner interviews and in-depth looks at the people and events shaping U.S. politics. Powerhouse Politics podcast is hosted by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein.