North Charleston, S.C.—Tim Scott, the lone Black Republican senator who showcases himself as a “sunrise” conservative, is expected to launch his historic yet underdog bid for president on Monday.
Scott will join an expanding field of GOP contenders looking to knock out Donald Trump, the former president who remains a muscular frontrunner despite qualms that he isn’t the best to challenge President Joe Biden.
But Scott and his team see this race as a marathon, and exude a confidence based on a combination of his biography and fundraising despite hovering at roughly 2% in primary polls.
The South Carolina senator has leaned into a narrative that oozes optimism despite being the grandson of a Black man who once picked cotton.
During a multi-state tour after forming an exploratory committee in April, he has held up the twin pillars of faith and education as a guiding light to overcome personal hardships that Scott says is a blueprint to his governing philosophy.
Scott enters 2024 contest with deep pockets
One advantage Scott brings to the table compared to others is being flush with campaign cash coupled with the reputation as a prolific fundraiser.
Scott has squirreled away roughly $22 million, which aides tout as the most of any presidential candidate in U.S. history. That positions the senator to be one of the few GOP contenders who can message widely to voters as a serious Trump challenger.
The campaign has launched a roughly $6 million ad buy starting with a $5.5 million drop in Iowa and New Hampshire this week and will run through the first Republican presidential debate in late August.
Scott proved to be a formidable fundraiser during the 2022 mid-term elections when he raked in about $43.1 million for his reelection, according to the Federal Election Commission. And a Scott-aligned super PAC, Opportunity Matters Fund Action, has almost matched that figure, raising about $37.3 million, according to OpenSecrets.
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Scott often talks about his racial heritage on the campaign trail, using an ad that has blasted Biden and the Democrats for promoting “victimhood” over “personal responsibility.”
He famously said the U.S. is “not a racist country” and has gone as far to argue his political opponents are guilty of “indoctrinating our children to believe we live in an evil country.”
What’s left to be seen, however, is how Scott plans to challenge Trump directly as many Republicans argue will be necessary to convince base voters to abandon the former president.
“He’s still the 800-pound gorilla,” former Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a longtime Trump critic, told USA TODAY.
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“I’ll say this, there are a bunch of candidates out there that can’t decide what to say about Trump and whether they like him or not, they change their mind, flip-flop,” he added. “No one should be in the race unless, you know if they’re going to be afraid to directly take on Trump because that’s what it’s going to take.”
Scott peppered Trump with criticism during his presidency, such as when he said the former president’s “moral authority” had been “compromised” after Trump said that “many sides” were to blame for the violence during a 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Advisers—who didn’t mention Trump specifically—added how some of the culture of victimhood and grievance exists on the right as well, adding how Scott plans to call out those instances.
During a “Faith in America” town hall in New Hampshire earlier this month, many believed Scott was alluding to Trump when he said: “The seeds of greatness, not the seeds of grievance, is our future.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tim Scott runs for president in 2024: How will he take on Trump?