The Tim Scott candidacy: Upbeat, inspiring, and very unlikely to win
I like Tim Scott. I like his story. I like his message.
But I don’t like his chances.
He’s charismatic, upbeat and could be a compelling presidential candidate.
But let’s face it, he is a long shot for the Republican nomination now that he’s announced. He hasn’t uttered a negative word about Donald Trump, the dominant front-runner. And – to be blunt – he is the only Black candidate running in a party whose members are predominantly white.
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But I’m glad he’s in the race. Even Trump is glad he’s in the race, having congratulated Scott on his announcement (and taking yet another shot at Ron DeSantis).
The larger reason, as his own advisers admit, is that the more Republicans run, the more they split the anti-Trump vote and guarantee the former president’s nomination. A Trump adviser told Politico this is “another sign that there is blood in the water for DeSantis.”
Scott is not only the sole Black Republican in the Senate, he’s just the third Black senator since Reconstruction. His signature motto has been “from cotton to Congress,” noting that his grandfather left school in the third grade to pick cotton and never learned to read or write. But the slogan has faded now that he’s pursuing the top job.
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Along with his personal story of rising from poverty, Scott talks openly about his Christian faith and the Bible. He “adopted the tone of a preacher” at his South Carolina event, the Washington Post says, asking the crowd for an “amen” and “hallelujah” as he walked around the stage.
He complained about the country “retreating away from patriotism and faith” under President Biden: “I will be the president who stops the far left’s assault on our religious liberty.”
Scott has some undeniable assets. He’s a strong fundraiser with $22 million in the bank, and Oracle founder Larry Ellison says he’ll put millions into the campaign. John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican, has endorsed him.
Former Republican congressional staffer John Feehery writes in the Hill: “In many ways, Tim Scott is a conventional conservative. He is pro-life, pro-faith, anti-tax and anti-regulation. He is a defender of small business, and he promotes his own brand of anti-government populism. And he supports a robust military and America’s strong hand in the international order…
“Conservatives are ready and willing to elect a Black man to the White House. It just has to be somebody who shares their values and their vision of a Judeo-Christian and free-market republic.”
But is there room for an old-fashioned conservative in a Trumpian party? Many on the right are not on board. Jesse Watters said on Fox News he didn’t understand the Scott candidacy: “Nice guy. But nice guys finish last.”
Some liberals are reflexively attacking Scott. On “The View,” Sunny Hostin said the senator mistakenly believes that because “he made it… everyone can make it.” Whoopi Goldberg said Scott suffers from “Clarence Thomas syndrome.”
Scott hit back with Fox News’ Trey Gowdy: “Meekness is not weakness. I believe in the Gospel. I believe Matthew 5:44 says ‘Love your enemies’ – [but] if you break in my house, I also believe in the Second Amendment.”
If Scott has any shot, it’s to pull a Barack Obama in Iowa. His 2008 victory there convinced a skeptical public that he could beat Hillary Clinton. Scott plans to work hard in Iowa, a state that values personal contact before its caucuses, for a credible finish.
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But he’s also got to go up against former governor Nikki Haley in their home state, another early contest.
Plenty of pundits think Scott is actually running for vice president, a choice that Trump could easily make. Many politicians run for the White House to boost their visibility and perhaps wind up in the Cabinet, as happened with Pete Buttigieg, who won Iowa.
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But it’s a long climb to capture the GOP nomination. A Harvard/Harris poll a few days ago put Scott’s support at 1%. An earlier Rasmussen poll had him at 3%.
Scott generally gets good press because many journalists admire him. But the rest of the country has to figure out who he is and whether he has what it takes.