COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina is taking the next official step toward a bid for president in 2024.
In a video released Wednesday morning, Scott announced he was forming an exploratory committee, which moves him closer to a formal campaign for the White House. He leaned into his biography as a Black man who overcame poverty to argue that Democrats are too liberal and have needlessly divided the country by fostering a “culture of grievance.”
“All too often when they get called out for their failures, they weaponize race to divide us, to hold onto their power,” he said. “When I fought back against their liberal agenda, they called me a prop. A token. Because I disrupt their narrative. I threaten their control.”
If he enters the field, Scott will join another South Carolinian, former Gov. Nikki Haley, as well as former President Donald Trump, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and “anti-woke” biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Others, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence, are considering launching campaigns in the coming months.
Scott, the only Black Republican senator, would be the nation’s first Black Republican president if elected. During a Wednesday morning interview on Fox News, Scott repeated some of the messaging from his video, also noting that, on his recent “listening tour” through early-voting states, he had heard from voters “starving for a positive, optimistic vision that is anchored in American values.”
Asked if his personal biography and positive message was his strongest weapon against Trump, who has been leading the Republican field in polling, Scott responded that “the field of play is focused in on President Biden’s failures.”
For months, Scott has been developing the infrastructure to accompany a bid for the White House, building out his political action committee and visiting early voting states. On Wednesday, he’s traveling to Iowa, the state that will kick off the Republican nomination contest early next year. He’ll also swing through the early voting state of New Hampshire this week before heading back to South Carolina for “breakfast, policy discussions, and political update” with donors.
Those donors could become key to an exploratory committee, which gives Scott the ability to raise money directly for a possible bid, cash that can fund polling and travel.
Scott has already shown the ability to attract significant money. Opportunity Matters Fund, a pro-Scott super political action committee, spent more than $20 million to help Republicans in 2022, reporting $13 million-plus on hand to start 2023. Tech billionaire Larry Ellison has donated at least $30 million to the organization since 2021, according to federal filings.
He has signaled how he might distinguish himself from the others in the race by leaning into a more hopeful message than the grievance-based politics advocated by others.
During a February visit to Iowa, which holds the first GOP presidential caucuses, Scott spoke of a “new American sunrise” rooted in collaboration.
“I see a future where common sense has rebuilt common ground, where we’ve created real unity, not by compromising away our conservatism, but by winning converts to our conservatism,” he said.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP