What to Expect From a Tim Scott Presidential Bid

He told a local South Carolina newspaper in 1995 that he'd actually prefer to be Vice President rather than President.


South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott joins a rapidly expanding field of Republican White House hopefuls, all clamoring for a foothold to take on former President Donald Trump, who remains the firm frontrunner despite a raft of scandals and legal woes. 

Scott and his team are banking on a strong showing in his home state of South Carolina to give his 2024 run life, but to get there he will have to make strong showings in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire where he is headed, again, immediately after launching next week. 

Former South Carolina Governor and U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, venture capitalist Vivek Ramaswamy, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson and a number of others have already entered the race. The political world is also standing by for expected launches from a number of big-name pols including former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the man who poses the strongest threat to Trump at the moment, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The challenge

Scott enters the race barely registering in polling. 

In the latest Harvard University/HarrisX national primary poll, Scott earned just 1 percent support, and shows Trump had a 79-21 advantage over him in a two-person contest.

Scott, who won his second Senate term last November, hopes to cast himself as the happy warrior of the 2024 GOP presidential primary field, focusing on his gritty life story being raised by a single mother and his Christian faith. 

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) speaks to guests at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Spring Kick-Off on April 22, 2023 in Clive, Iowa. Iowa is scheduled to hold the first Republican presidential nominating contest of 2024, on Feb. 5. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Republican operatives working on various campaigns and veterans of previous White House campaigns have been chattering for months that Scott could struggle to find a foothold in the already-packed field, leading to speculation that the 57-year-old lawmaker is either building recognition among voters for a serious White House bid in 2028 or positioning to be the eventual Republican nominee’s running mate.  

When he started his career in office almost three decades ago, the first-term member of the Charleston County Council said that he was more interested in running for vice president in the future than seeking the Oval Office itself. 

Asked by the Charleston Post and Courier in September 1995 if he was aiming to one day run for the White House, the then-30-year-old Scott replied, “I thought about that, but as vice president you get to speak more and have a forum to deliver messages.”

But unlike his first foray into politics almost three decades ago, Scott now commands an enviable campaign warchest of $22 million, much of which is left over from the $42 million raised during the 2022 cycle.  

The supply is bolstered by longtime Republican mega-donor Larry Ellison, the Oracle CEO, who has given $30 million to a Super PAC aligned with Scott

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition annual leadership meeting on November 19, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition annual leadership meeting on November 19, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Scott is popular among his Senate colleagues and veteran hands associated with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s vaunted political operation. Former National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Cory Gardner and former executive director Rob Collins signed with Scott’s nascent bid in February and South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds recently endorsed Scott. 

Scott also boasts a tight team of longtime loyalists, helmed by former chief of staff Jennifer DeCasper and support from former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and CEO of Republican campaign firm Targeted Victory, Zac Moffatt

He embarked on a “Faith in America” tour last month across the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. He filmed his launch video for his exploratory tease last month at Fort Sumter in Charleston, the site of the 1861 battle that launched the Civil War. 

Speaking 162 years later at Sumter, Scott said the country is at a similar breaking point, “Joe Biden and the radical left have chosen a culture of grievance over greatness.”

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