South Carolina's Tim Scott, the U.S. Senate's lone Black Republican, announced Monday he is running for the party's 2024 presidential nomination, joining the growing field of challengers looking to unseat Democratic President Joe Biden in the election 18 months from now.
Scott, 57, opened his long-shot candidacy in his home state at his alma mater, Charleston Southern University. He added himself to the list of Republican candidates that national polls show is dominated by former President Donald Trump, who is seeking to reclaim the White House after losing his 2020 reelection bid to Biden.
Scott was first appointed to the Senate in 2012 by then-South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who herself is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. National polls of Republican voters show both Haley, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Scott mired in single digits, trailing far behind Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who himself is expected to officially join the Republican presidential nomination contest later this week.
Scott hopes to distinguish himself in the Republican field with more optimistic rhetoric than his conservative rivals. With his Christian faith an integral part of his political and personal story, Scott often quotes the Bible at his campaign events, even bestowing the name "Faith in America" on his pre-campaign listening tour.
He easily won reelection to the Senate last year and had $22 million left in his campaign coffers that he immediately intends to deploy in his presidential nomination campaign, using it for television ads in early-voting states ahead of the party presidential nominating contests in the first months of 2024.
In the Senate, Scott has aligned himself with mainstream Republican positions. He wants to reduce government spending and restrict abortion, saying that if he is elected president, he would sign a federal law to prohibit abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Scott, however, has pressed Republicans on some policing overhaul measures since the 2020 death in Minneapolis of a Black man, George Floyd, while he was in police custody, and has occasionally criticized Trump's response to racial tensions. But Scott has maintained a generally cordial relationship with Trump and not drawn the former president's ire, perhaps because Trump does not view Scott, unlike DeSantis, as an immediate political threat in the Republican nomination contest.
In a video announcing his exploratory committee earlier this year, Scott positioned himself as the antidote to the "radical left" — a self-made success story as the son of a single mother who overcame poverty. He also bemoaned Democratic leaders as needlessly dividing the country by fostering a "culture of grievance."
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson are also in the Republican presidential field and could be joined by others looking to overtake Trump. The former president, while leading the polls, is facing several criminal investigations about his role in trying to upend his loss to Biden and his retention of classified documents as he left office in early 2021. Trump has already been charged with altering his real estate company business records to hide a hush money payment to a porn actress just ahead of his winning 2016 campaign and faces a trial early next year.
Trump's former vice president, Mike Pence, is weighing entering the 2024 Republican nomination contest, as are former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and others.