On the eve of a visit to the First in the Nation presidential primary state, South Carolina U.S. Sen. Tim Scott released a video announcing he is forming a 2024 exploratory committee. It is a sign the conservative Republican with strong connections to the Christian right is seriously considering a White House run.
On Thursday, Scott will be in New Hampshire meeting with pastors and political leaders, along with a quick stop at the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester. “We’re looking forward to welcoming Sen. Scott in New Hampshire, and I’m sure he’ll get a warm welcome from the ‘Yankees’ of the Granite State,” said New Hampshire state GOP chair Chris Ager. “If he gets in the race, he’ll add to the growing list of great Republican candidates.”
The video, shot at Ft. Sumter in Charleston, S.C., and released on the anniversary of the first shots of the Civil War, offers a message of unity that contrasts with the general tenor of American politics at the moment.
“America’s soul was put to the test [in 1861]– and we prevailed,” Scott says. “Today, our country is once again being tested. Once again, our divisions run deep.”
The video features Scott’s biography, growing up in poverty in the South Carolina Lowcountry with a single mom. “The spoons in our apartment were plastic, not silver.” It also highlights Scott’s religious faith — the video ends with “God bless you”– and his pledge to defend “our Judeo-Christian values and protect our religious liberty.” He also touts his support “for the most fundamental right — the right to life itself.”
It’s a familiar message from one of the most well-liked members of the Republican Party.
In a podcast interview with NHJournal in 2021 on the eve of his appearance at the Amos Tuck dinner in Manchester, Scott called himself an “unbridled optimist. I feel as excited about our future today as I did 20 years ago.”
While some GOP strategists question the political strength of his messaging, his ability to fundraise is eye-popping. In 2022, facing a nominal Democratic opponent, Scott raised more than $51 million. His Opportunity Matters super PAC spent more than $20 million boosting GOP candidates across the U.S. in 2022, and he has $21 million cash on hand.
“He is a fundraising machine,” one NHGOP insider told NHJournal. “That’s what’s got D.C. Republicans excited.”
Scott, 57, isn’t known as a political pugilist. In an appearance on Fox News Wednesday morning, Scott was asked how he planned to wrest the GOP nomination from frontrunner Donald Trump. Scott deflected. “Instead of having a conversation about how to beat another Republican, we should have a conversation about beating Joe Biden.
However, he did take some swipes at Democrats in his announcement video.
“Joe Biden and the radical left have chosen a culture of grievance over greatness. They’re promoting victimhood instead of personal responsibility, and they’re indoctrinating our children to believe we live in an evil country,” Scott said. “When I fought back against their liberal agenda, they called me a ‘prop,’ a ‘token,’ because I disrupt their narrative.”
Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison, also from South Carolina, released a statement in response to Scott’s announcement.
“Tim Scott wants to govern from the ‘far, conservative right’ as a proud member of the Tea Party, and his extreme record proves it. Even before he refused to name a policy difference with Trump, Scott was a fierce advocate of the MAGA agenda – supporting national abortion bans and championing plans to end Medicare and Social Security as we know them.”
Scott’s response: “I’m glad they’re afraid of me. My life disproves their lies.”