Tim Scott, a senator from South Carolina, formally announced his candidacy in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. One of an increasing number of nominees joining a fight that will include heavyweights Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, the South Carolina senator has risen quickly over the past decade to a position of prominence in the GOP.
Here are 10 things to know about Tim Scott.
Scott is a 57-year-old senator from South Carolina
Scott grew up in South Carolina, attending a Baptist university and owning an insurance company before becoming involved in politics. He entered politics in the mid-1990s as a Charleston, South Carolina, city council member before running for Congress.
Scott leans into a story of personal success and ‘personal responsibility’
Scott presents himself as an American success story. After growing up in poverty, living with his single mother in his grandparents’ house, Scott says he was mentored by a local Chick-fil-A business owner who taught him “conservative business principles” and allowed him to see a way to a better life. He has described his life as an “only in America” story of achievement, and claimed that people need to take “individual responsibility” for their lives.
Scott was first elected to Congress in 2010
Scott staked his political claim amid a wave of conservative opposition to Barack Obama’s presidency. As a member of the hardline conservative Tea Party movement, he was endorsed at the time by the former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and became a rising star of the party. After two years as a congressman, he was chosen in 2012 to replace the Republican senator Jim DeMint and appointed to the Senate.
Scott is the sole Black Republican senator
Scott is the only Black Republican senator, and was the first Black Republican elected to the US House of Representatives from South Carolina in over a hundred years. He has previously talked about his unique role as a Black Republican and the discrimination he has faced from authorities, but has claimed that liberals use race as a way to divide voters. He faced heated criticism from Black activists in 2021 after declaring “America is not a racist country” in response to a speech from President Joe Biden that condemned racism following a white supremacist mass shooting.
Scott repeatedly emphasizes his evangelical faith
Scott’s campaign is set to heavily court evangelical voters and lean into his conservative Christian identity – Scott has previously said he sees himself first as a biblical leader rather than a Republican or conservative. In a video declaring he was launching an exploratory committee for president, Scott said that he would “defend the Judeo-Christian foundation our nation is built on” and the committee’s first fundraising email included a call for a two-minute prayer in support of Scott.
Scott has vowed to sign anti-abortion legislation if president
Scott told NBC News reporters in April that he would sign “the most conservative, pro-life legislation that they can get through Congress” if elected president. Although Scott did not give a specific answer on how far into a pregnancy he would make abortion illegal, he did not rule out a six-week federal ban when asked to clarify his stance.
‘He is the exact opposite of Donald Trump’
Scott’s reputation is that of a “kind-hearted” and optimistic politician, Republican pollster Frank Luntz told the Guardian. It’s a stark difference in tone from Trump, whose apocalyptic vision of the United States and vows of retribution against his opponents have come to dominate the GOP.
But Scott has praised Trump and advocated similar policies
When the Fox News host Sean Hannity asked Scott in February what the differences would be between his platform and Trump’s, the senator responded “probably not very many at all”. He called the policies passed under Trump’s presidencies “monumental” and said he was “so thankful” that Trump was elected.
Some Republican mega-donors have backed Scott’s campaign
Wealthy conservative mega-donors are throwing some of their largesse in Scott’s direction, with the tech billionaire Larry Ellison giving $15m to a pro-Scott SuperPac. Scott’s campaign told reporters in May that it had about $22m cash on hand.
Scott’s support from Republican voters appears very low
A recent Morning Consult poll from 16 May showed Scott with only 1% of Republican primary voters supporting him. In contrast, that same poll placed Trump with 61% support among the same group.