Tim Scott announces presidential campaign, adding to Trump challengers

Tim Scott, the first black Republican elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction, announced his presidential campaign on Monday, bringing a positive and ambitious message to a growing number of Republicans posing as alternatives to former President Donald J. Trump. .

Mr Scott’s decision, which followed a soft deployment in February and the creation of an exploratory committee in April, this time came with a signal to the Republican establishment that he was the candidate to rally if the party had to stop the nomination of Mr. Trump. . It was introduced by Republican No. 2 in the Senate, John Thune of South Dakota, and will immediately begin a $5.5 million publicity blitz in the early candidate states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Our party and our nation stand at a time when we must choose: Victim or victory?” he said, repeating the choice three times during a crowded and noisy morning gathering in the gymnasium of his alma mater, Charleston Southern University. “Grievance or greatness? I choose freedom, hope and opportunity.

Long considered a rising star in the GOP, Mr. Scott, 57, is entering the mainstream after raising $22 million in fundraising and luring veteran political operatives to work on his behalf.

But his message of hope and inclusion may not resonate among grassroots Republican voters steeped in Mr. Trump’s angry demands for revenge, and the field of Republicans hoping to take Mr. Trump’s nomination is poised to become much more crowded.

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida and Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, are expected to enter the race in the coming days. Chris Sununu, the popular Republican governor of New Hampshire, hinted over the weekend that he was also likely to throw his hat in the ring, muddling the battle for the state with the first Republican primary. Mike Pence, Mr Trump’s former vice president, is still considering a race.

With Mr Trump’s staunchest supporters unwilling to abandon their standard-bearer, critics of the former president fear more opponents will only split the anti-Trump vote and secure his victory. Mr. Thune’s presence on stage Monday was an acknowledgment of that concern and a call for other elected Republicans to join Mr. Scott.

“Tim Scott is the real deal,” Mr. Thune proclaimed.

Scott campaign aides said his $22 million war chest was more than any presidential candidate in history. (When Mr. DeSantis announces his offer as expected, he’ll have more money in allied groups, but that kind of political money doesn’t go that far under campaign finance rules.) Scott’s aides also said the $42 million he has raised since 2022 — much of which has been distributed to other Republicans — has created a depth of loyalty that other candidates don’t have.

Perhaps the biggest question hanging over Mr. Scott’s candidacy is whether his religiously infused message of positivity can attract enough Republican voters to win in a crowded primary.

One of Mr Scott’s rivals for the nomination is Nikki Haley, a former UN ambassador and governor of South Carolina who nominated him to her Senate seat in 2012. The two have shared allegiances and support in the state since Ms. Haley started her run in February, potentially complicating their efforts in an unavoidable early primary state.

“I bet there’s room for three or four” candidates from South Carolina, Scott told conservative radio personality Joey Hudson in a February interview.

Mr. Scott consolidated the support of several top Republican donors and political consultants during a tour of Iowa and New Hampshire, the main early candidate states, as well as South Carolina, his home base. . Longtime political operative Rob Collins and former Colorado senator Cory Gardner, two well-known figures in Republican politics, are the leaders of its affiliated super PAC. Last month, two of South Carolina’s top agents, Matt Moore and Mark Knoop, were tapped to lead the group’s operations in the state.

Mick Mulvaney, the former congressman from South Carolina and acting White House chief of staff to Trump, was on the announcement, as was Mark Sanford, the disgraced former governor of South Carolina whose return politics was cut short by his fierce criticism of Mr. Trump. .

“I’m a huge Tim Scott fan,” Mr. Sanford said.

Originally from North Charleston, Mr Scott was raised by a single mother who worked long hours as a nursing assistant to raise him and his brothers. A car accident in high school shattered his football dreams, but he attended Presbyterian College on a partial athletic scholarship before eventually studying political science at Charleston Southern.

His first foray into politics was through the Charleston County Council. After serving a term in the State House, he defeated Strom’s son Thurmond and won a seat for the First Congressional District in 2010, making him the first black Republican House member from the Deep South since Reconstruction. Just 15 years earlier, he had backed Mr. Thurmond’s Senate re-election campaign, as statewide co-chairman.

In his speeches, he often uses his biography — a story of humble beginnings and rapid rise on the political stage — to emphasize his view of America as a worthy work in progress rather than an irredeemably racist nation.

“They say opportunity in America is a myth and faith in America is a fraud,” he said Monday. “But the truth of my life refutes their lies!”

The importance of his position does not escape him. After a white gunman murdered nine black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, Mr Scott condemned the act as a ‘hate crime’ and joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in backing the removal by Mrs. Haley of the South Carolina Confederate Emblem. state flag. As the nation reeled over the deaths of several black men at the hands of police in 2016, he delivered a speech from the Senate floor outlining instances where he was racially profiled, including by police of the Capitol.

And the following year, after Mr Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides” of a white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, Mr Scott criticized his remarks, forcing the former president to invite the senator to the White House. for a meeting about it.

Mr Scott was a leading Republican voice in the police reform negotiations following the 2020 killing of George Floyd, helping to draft the Republican-proposed bill that called for narrow reforms but ultimately failed not been adopted. In 2017, he led the creation of Opportunity Zones, an initiative that provides tax incentives to investors in low-income neighborhoods, many of which are majority black.

It is unclear, however, whether these efforts will translate into additional support from black voters on the national stage. For many black Democrats, Mr. Scott’s race matters little given his conservative electoral record.

“The same black people who would normally vote Republican are the people who will vote for Tim Scott,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Democrat of New York. “The majority of black people,” he added, “will not come out for Tim Scott.”

Mr. Scott has already been tested as a presidential candidate. Days into his exploratory committee, Scott asked about his support for a federal abortion ban and did not specify how many weeks he would restrict access to the procedure if he was elected president.

Mr Scott’s entry into the race also comes amid soul-searching for Republicans over who will wear the party mantle in 2024. Mr Trump has increased his advantage in the polls even as he faces many further personal and political controversies, including his indictment by a grand jury in Manhattan and subsequent liability in a sexual assault trial involving columnist E. Jean Carroll. Mr. Scott pointedly refused to criticize Mr. Trump head-on, preferring oblique references to his own righteousness.

The senator’s supporters hailed the message, mostly positive and peppered with biblical references, as a welcome contrast to the vitriol that has become a feature of national campaigns.

“You haven’t seen him burned in effigy because of some side he took,” said Mikee Johnson, a Columbia-area business owner and Scott’s donor. “Rather, he’s the one who seems to have brought some people together.”

Mr Johnson added: ‘And I love it, because it belongs there.’

At a March presidential forum in Charleston hosted by the conservative Christian Palmetto Family Council, Scott highlighted themes likely to take center stage during his presidential campaign.

“There are two visions: one that seems to pull us down and another that wants to restore faith in this nation,” he told the crowd after quoting from the Epistle to the Galatians. “We think we need more faith in America, more faith in Americans, not less.”


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button