COLUMBIA, SC (AP) — South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott made it official Friday: He’s running for president.
Scott, the Senate’s only black Republican, filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission announcing his intention to seek his party’s nomination in 2024. His candidacy will test whether an optimistic vision of America’s future can resonate with GOP voters fueled by recent partisan bickering. years.
The deeply religious 57-year-old former insurance broker has made his grandfather’s work in the cotton fields of the Deep South the bedrock of his political identity. Yet he rejects the notion that racism is a powerful force in society, and he has expressed his candidacy and rising from generational poverty as a realization of a dream only possible in America.
Scott, who last month created an oversight committee to allow the White House to raise and spend money during the campaign, plans a formal announcement Monday at Charleston Southern University, a private Baptist college and Scott’s alma mater, in his hometown of North Charleston. .
Scott already plans television ads to begin airing early next week in early voting states Iowa and New Hampshire, the most significant ad spend by a potential or announced candidate in the early stages of the 2024 nomination campaign.
Scott tries to focus on optimistic themes and avoid divisive language to distinguish himself from the grievance-based politics favored by GOP field frontrunners. It is expected to be done soon.
The senator refuses to frame his own life story around the nation’s racial disparities. He asserts that those who disagree with his views on the issue are “trying to weaponize race to divide us” and that “the truth of my life proves their lies.”
During a February visit to Iowa, home to the first GOP presidential caucuses, Scott spoke of a “new American sunrise” rooted in cooperation.
“I see a future where common sense has been rebuilt, where we have built real unity, not by compromising our conservatism, but by winning over converts to our conservatism,” he said.
But Scott has his limits. During the same trip, he railed against political correctness in the same fashion as Trump and DeSantis.
“If you want a blueprint to destroy America, you’re going to continue to do what Joe Biden has allowed the left to do to our country for the last two years,” he said. “Tell every white kid they are oppressors. Tell black and brown children that their destiny is to be low, not great.
Scott often talks about his tough roots. He was raised by a single mother who worked long hours as a nurse’s aide to provide for him and his brother after she divorced his father. Scott, who describes himself as a lazy student, earned a degree in political science from Charleston Southern University before starting an insurance career.
Scott’s faith is an integral part of his political and personal story. Scott, who describes himself as a “born-again believer,” quotes scriptures at campaign events, weaves his faith in spiritual guidance into his stump speeches and uses “Faith in America” to describe his series of political appearances before entering the race.
On many issues, Scott aligns with key GOP positions. He wants to cut government spending and restrict abortion, saying if elected president he would sign federal legislation banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
But Scott has pushed the party for some police reform since the killing of George Floyd, and he has occasionally criticized Trump’s response to racial tensions. Scott called it “indefensible” after Trump retweeted — and later deleted — a post containing a racist slogan associated with white supremacists.
In the days following Trump’s widely criticized response to a 2017 white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Scott said that Trump’s moral authority had been compromised and that without some introspection, “he … will have a hard time regaining that moral authority.”
Despite their differences, Scott has maintained a generally cordial relationship with Trump, saying in his book that the former president “listened intently” to his views on racial issues.
Scott’s most formidable rival is Nikki Haley, Trump’s former U.N. ambassador, who inspired Scott’s political rise when she was governor of South Carolina and appointed him to the Senate in 2012.
In filing for the seat held by Republican Jim DeMint, Scott became the first black senator from the South since the Civil War. In a 2014 special election, Scott became the first black candidate to win a statewide race in South Carolina since the Reconstruction era to serve out the remainder of his term.
He easily won re-election last year and said his current term, which runs until 2029, would be his last.
As a senator, he has been a vocal Republican on issues including policing, and was the GOP’s chief negotiator on the 2021 repeal legislation. He spoke on the Senate floor about his personal experiences as a black man in America.
“I felt the anger, frustration, sadness and shame that comes with feeling like you’re the only one being targeted,” Scott said in 2016, describing being pulled over seven times in one year. . Scott was once stopped by a U.S. Capitol Police officer who recognized the Senate lapel pin he was wearing — but did not recognize Scott.
Scott rejects the idea that the nation is inherently racist and rejects the teaching of critical race theory, an academic framework that posits that national institutions maintain white supremacy.
“Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country,” Scott said. “Fighting discrimination with different forms of discrimination is going backwards. It is wrong to try to use our painful past to unfairly shut down current debates.
Scott believes parents should have more oversight over what their children learn in public schools about race, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Scott has addressed the Republican National Convention twice — in 2012 as a first-term congressman and in 2020 as a senator. At the last GOP convention, he praised Trump for building a “more inclusive economy” and funding historically black colleges and universities.
After Biden’s White House victory, Scott was tapped to give the GOP response to the new president’s first address to Congress.
Others in the GOP 2024 race include Entrepreneur and “Woke, Inc.” Author Vivek Ramasamy, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and radio host Larry Elder. DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are expected to announce campaigns soon.
If Scott wins, he will be the first black person to win the Republican presidential nomination and only the second person to win the presidency, following Barack Obama in 2008.
Scott often notes that his family made it “from cotton to Congress in one lifetime” — a reference to his grandfather, who dropped out of grade school to pick cotton in the Deep South.
Associated Press writer Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP