Tim Scott Announces GOP Presidential Bid, Joins Crowded Field Taking on Trump

South Carolina senator remains close with Wyoming’s Senate delegation

  • Published In: Politics
  • Last Updated: May 23, 2023

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) formally jumped into the GOP presidential race on Monday, joining a crowded field taking on former President Donald Trump for the nomination. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

By Jacob Gardenswartz

Special to the Wyoming Truth


U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) on Monday joined a growing list of candidates seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, announcing the launch of a presidential campaign in his hometown of North Charleston, South Carolina.

“Joe Biden and the radical left are attacking every single rung of the ladder that helped me climb,” Scott said to a large crowd of supporters gathered at his alma mater, Charleston Southern University. “And that’s why I’m announcing today that I’m running for president of the United States of America.” 

In his remarks, Scott sought to articulate an optimistic future for the country, in contrast to the gloomier portrait of America often espoused by former President Donald Trump.

“For those of you who wonder if it’s possible for a broken kid in a broken home to rise beyond their circumstances, the answer is yes,” Scott said. “And for those of you who wonder if America is a racist country, take a look at how people come together.”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020 as the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress ended for the day. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

“We are not defined by the color of our skin; we are defined by the content of our character,” Scott added.

As the only Black Republican senator, Scott has emerged as a leading GOP voice on issues of race, at times working to elevate matters not typically seen as party priorities. He was credited as crucial to the eventual passage of 2022’s Emmett Till Antilynching Act, for example, a bipartisan measure that designated lynching a federal hate crime.

Scott has similarly taken on a leading role in ongoing police reform negotiations, though lawmakers have yet to reach any significant agreement despite the nationwide attention on matters of racialized police violence in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

In his Monday remarks, however, Scott positioned himself squarely in the tough-on-crime camp, decrying the “far left” who are “demonizing, demoralizing and defunding the police.”

“We will back the blue, secure our streets and finally make it a federal crime to kill, ambush or assault a cop in this country,” Scott added of his policy priorities.

Close with Wyoming’s delegation, but no endorsements yet

Having served in the Senate since 2013, Scott remains popular with many of his GOP colleagues — and Wyoming Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis are no exception.

In recent months, Barrasso has said it “doesn’t get any better” than Scott, describing him as like “Ronald Reagan, morning in America” and even predicting “he’d be a great president.”

Lummis, for her part, has called him the “right messenger with the right message” and noted how much she’s enjoyed serving on the Senate Banking Committee, which Scott chairs.

Still, neither senator has opted to endorse Scott’s presidential bid, in contrast to Sen. John Thune (R-S.D), who delivered opening remarks at Scott’s announcement event Monday.

“Tim Scott is the real deal,” Thune said. “And he will make a great president of the United States.” Thune’s endorsement was seen as an early boost to Scott’s candidacy; as the number two Republican in the Senate, Thune remains close with GOP leadership — including Barrasso.

But one major difference between the two GOP leaders: Thune was just reelected to the Senate last year, meaning he won’t need to mount another campaign, should he run again, until 2028. Barrasso, meanwhile, is up for reelection in 2024 and has already come under fire from some for not being sufficiently supportive of Trump.

In the Trumpiest state in the nation, any decision to break with the former president can be dangerous. Rep. Harriet Hageman was among the first sitting lawmakers to endorse his 2024 campaign. In an interview with the Wyoming Truth last month, she explained her reasoning: “He won Wyoming by over 70% of the vote, and I represent Wyoming.”

Representatives for Barrasso and Lummis did not respond to inquiries about the senators’ thoughts on Scott’s candidacy.

Can he take out Trump?

With Scott’s entrance into the presidential race, the GOP primary field has begun to take shape: joining Scott as candidates who have formally announced campaigns are Trump, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, conservative media personality Larry Elder and businessmen Vivek Ramaswamy, Perry Johnson and Ryan Binkley.

Then there are those still waiting in the wings, rumored to be running but not yet announced: former Vice President Mike Pence, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s poised to formalize his campaign this week.

Of course, none so far have come close to overtaking Trump’s popularity among GOP primary voters; a Harvard/Harris poll conducted last week found Trump leading the pack as the top choice for 58% of Republican primary voters, with DeSantis following at 16% and Scott trailing with 1%.

Though Scott never addressed Trump by name in his announcement speech, he did explain to voters why he’s the best candidate to take on Biden in the general election.

“We need a president who persuades not just our friends and our base,” Scott said, a tacit criticism of the former president. “We have to have compassion for people who don’t agree with us.”

“I’m the candidate, the far left fears the most,” he similarly claimed. “I disrupt their narrative; I threaten their control. The truth of my life disrupts their lies.”

Scott enters the race with a significant war chest, holding some $20 million cash on hand, with plans to begin airing radio and TV ads in early primary states this week. Scott also remains close with Oracle co-founder and GOP megadonor Larry Ellison, who has reportedly pledged to spend upwards of $20 million on Scott’s campaign.

Trump, meanwhile, welcomed Scott into the race, describing him in a post on his social media platform Truth Social as a “big step up from Ron DeSanctimonious” — his nickname for the Florida governor and his chief rival.

But just as quickly, Trump pivoted to boasting of his own success in the polls thus far, posting a Fox News graphic showing him with a double-digit lead over his challengers.

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