Another big name appears to soon be making a splash in the Republican race for the 2024 presidency, and that is South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. Scott and his advisors had recently hired friend and former Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner to spearhead Scott’s new super PAC in a move many experts see as trying to push the potential candidates’ name on a national scale. When questioned about a potential run, Scott’s senior advisor, Jennifer DeCasper, was quoted as saying: “[He is] excited to share his vision of hope and opportunity and hear the American people’s response.” Scott is expected to speak Thursday in South Carolina at a GOP Black History Month dinner, one day following Nikki Haley’s run announcement.
By Eliza Collins; February 13, 2023
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott is taking steps to run for president, people familiar with his plans said, adding to the stable of Republicans looking to wrest the party mantle from former President Donald Trump.
Mr. Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, is testing a message with GOP voters in key early states focused on unity and optimism as some Republicans say it is time to move on from the Trump era. Mr. Trump has announced a bid for president in the 2024 election.
Jennifer DeCasper, a Scott senior adviser, said he was “excited to share his vision of hope and opportunity and hear the American people’s response.”
What isn’t clear yet, some people close to Mr. Scott acknowledge, is whether the GOP base that enthusiastically embraced Mr. Trump is interested in that message.
While his voting record regularly ranks among the most conservative in the Senate, Mr. Scott has sought to position himself as a key GOP voice on some of the toughest issues facing America, whether it is police violence or creating more economic opportunities for minorities. Still, he is a relatively unknown quantity with average voters and in addition to competing with Mr. Trump will be challenged by several other candidates also seeking to take over the next generation of leadership.
Mr. Scott has selected former Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Rob Collins, a former head of the National Republican Senate Committee as co-chairs of a new super PAC. Axios earlier reported the move.
He is scheduled to speak Thursday in his home state at a county GOP dinner celebrating Black History Month—one day after a fellow South Carolina Republican, former Gov. Nikki Haley, announces her own bid—and later this month in Iowa. Iowa is the first state in the Republican nominating process and South Carolina is the third. The people familiar said he would be traveling extensively in the coming months.
Mr. Scott, who grew up poor and struggled in school, has said the support of his mom and a mentor, a Chick-fil-A operator named John Moniz, turned his life around and taught him conservative principles. Before he became a senator he served in the Charleston County Council, South Carolina state House and in the U.S. House.
Previously he told The Wall Street Journal his agenda is focused on lifting people out of distressed communities. Mr. Scott has pushed for education policies that would allow parents more flexibility in where they send their children to school using public-school funds. Opponents say such programs can hurt public schools by taking funding away.
He also frequently touts his opportunity-zone initiative passed as part of the 2017 GOP tax overhaul. It is designed to encourage investment in low-income communities by creating incentives in specific areas for private investment with relatively few restrictions.
The people close to Mr. Scott said the challenge is getting his name identification up in a race that is expected to include several prominent Republicans, along with Mr. Trump and Ms. Haley. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to join the nomination race after his state’s legislative session wraps in May, is first or second, alongside Mr. Trump, in many polls of the potential GOP field.
Following disappointing Republican results in the 2018, 2020 and 2022 elections, some Republicans have said it is time to move on from Mr. Trump. Most candidates who embraced Mr. Trump and his false claims of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election lost their competitive races last year. After the 2020 election, Mr. Scott voted to certify Joe Biden’s presidential win.
Mr. Scott has been discussed as a potential presidential candidate for several years. He was the 2021 Republican chosen to respond to President Biden’s address to Congress and has proved to be a strong fundraiser. He pulled in over $51 million during his last term. Mr. Scott has also built goodwill within the party in 2022, when he campaigned for other candidates and donated money to their campaigns.
“He truly believes that God is great and America is great and we are provided with incredible opportunities. So I think a Ronald Reagan ‘Morning in America’ hopeful America vision is one that Tim has, lives and breathes and is really needed in our country,” and Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), who is the GOP Senate conference chair.
Ms. Haley first appointed Mr. Scott to the Senate in 2012 to fill the remainder of Sen. Jim DeMint’s term after Mr. DeMint resigned. He won re-election in 2016 and 2022 by over 30 percentage points.
Both Mr. Scott and Ms. Haley will be under pressure to win their home state in the primary process. However, Mr. Trump has already sewn up significant support, including from the state’s GOP governor, Sen. Lindsey Graham and several House members.
“South Carolina wants Donald J. Trump back in the White House,” said GOP Rep. Russell Fry at Mr. Trump’s kickoff event in the state last month. Mr. Fry easily unseated former Rep. Tom Rice, a Republican who voted to impeach Mr. Trump, in the conservative coastal district where voters still adore the former president.
Mr. Scott was the key Republican lawmaker involved in failed policing-overhaul negotiations in 2021, The Wall Street Journal first reported. Mr. Scott, Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.), and former Rep. Karen Bass (D., Calif.), who is now the mayor of Los Angeles, were unable to resolve deep differences over how police officers should be prosecuted and held liable, including whether to change or eliminate a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity that shields officers from lawsuits.
Mr. Biden and other Democrats have revived calls for legislative action after the release of footage of the traffic stop that led to the beating and death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old FedEx worker and father.
Mr. Booker has said he and Mr. Scott have been in recent conversations to see if there is a path forward. Mr. Scott has said there is the possibility for legislation to come but has been critical of what Democrats have previously put forward. Lawmakers in both parties are skeptical any compromise legislation could move through a divided Congress.