Sen. Tim Scott launched a presidential exploratory committee on Wednesday, taking a concrete step toward a 2024 presidential campaign to challenge Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina launched a presidential exploratory committee on Wednesday, taking a concrete step toward a 2024 presidential campaign to challenge Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.
- Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, made his personal rags-to-riches story central to his announcement video. “I will never back down in defense of the conservative values that make America exceptional,” he said in the tweet launching his announcement video.
- “All too often when [Democrats] get called out for their failures, they weaponize race to divide us, to hold onto their power,” Scott said in the video. “When I fought back against their liberal agenda, they called me a prop. A token. Because I disrupt their narrative. I threaten their control. They know the truth of my life disproves their lies.”
- An exploratory committee allows the South Carolina Republican to raise money for a potential presidential campaign. Scott plans to begin a listening tour of the early states before deciding whether to go through with a bid.
- Scott is a fundraising powerhouse, ending 2022 with more than $21 million in his Senate campaign account that he could use to fuel his presidential campaign.
- The Opportunity Matters Fund, a pro-Scott super PAC that can raise unlimited funds, reported having $13 million on hand at the beginning of 2023. Oracle founder Larry Ellison has donated at least $30 million to the Opportunity Matters Fund since 2021.
- Scott joins a growing GOP field that besides Trump includes former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and former UN Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who appointed Scott to the Senate in 2013.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin are also considering campaigns.
- The New York Times called Scott “the most prominent Black leader in the Republican Party.” Scott’s compelling personal story – as he puts it, “Our family went from cotton to Congress in one lifetime” – is what he believes will resonate with voters, as he told Fox News in his debut interview.
- The Washington Post covered the growing rivalry between Scott and Nikki Haley for the “third option” in the GOP primary to Trump and DeSantis. The two South Carolinians are running on similar themes and have posted impressive fundraising numbers.
- It’s rare for candidates to explore a run without pulling the trigger, so why bother? As the Meet the Press Daily blog noted, “Launching an exploratory committee can help the potential candidate get two media boosts — one when announcing the exploratory committee and another when announcing their candidacy.”
- Scott debuted his exploratory committee on Fox News with an appearance on “Fox and Friends” on Wednesday morning to kick off an early-state campaign swing through Iowa and New Hampshire.
- The New York Post wrote Scott was mounting a bid “despite low 7% home state support” in a recent Winthrop University poll of South Carolina Republicans. Home-state rival Haley polled 18%, good enough to third place, with both Palmetto State Republicans trailing Trump and DeSantis.
- National Review’s Jeffrey Blehar argued Scott’s entry into the race shows “DeSantis has not frozen the field.” Some conservatives had hoped DeSantis’s strong polling would keep out other non-Trump candidates, but Scott’s candidacy underscores how much that was “wishcasting,” according to Blehar.
© Dominic Moore, 2023