Republican presidential candidate Tim Scott on Thursday criticized competitor Ron DeSantis on his support for Florida education standards requiring students to be instructed on the “benefits” of slavery.
Asked by a POLITICO reporter about the curriculum requirement at a campaign stop outside Des Moines, the South Carolina senator said he hoped that “every person in our country, and certainly running for president, would appreciate that” slavery had no benefits to enslaved people.
“There is no silver lining in slavery,” Scott said. “Slavery was really about separating families, about mutilating humans and even raping their wives. It was just devastating.”
The Florida standards backed by Gov. DeSantis require instructors to teach middle schoolers that “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” The requirement has come under fire from a spectrum of political voices from Vice President Kamala Harris to Republican Florida Rep. Byron Donalds.
Asked about Donalds’ criticism of the curriculum at a campaign stop in Iowa earlier Thursday, DeSantis questioned the representative’s loyalty to the Florida Republican party.
“So at the end of the day you’ve got to choose,” DeSantis said. “Are you going to side with Kamala Harris and liberal media outlets or are you going to side with the state of Florida?”
DeSantis has doubled down on the requirement in the past week, suggesting that it has been misrepresented by political opponents. Recently, he suggested that the standards would see students educated on enslaved people that transitioned from “being a blacksmith into, into doing things later in life.”
But Scott noted that any of the benefits the curriculum suggested enslaved people had would have also been held by free people. Still, Scott said that “people have bad days,” suggesting that DeSantis may have regretted his defense of the curriculum and urging reporters to ask him again about his thoughts on the policy.