Tim Scott, the only Black Republican serving in the U.S. Senate, officially launched his bid for the presidency in 2024 on Monday. He is banking that his upbeat message will resonate with voters in a party where many people are still solidly in support of former President Donald Trump.
He largely drew on his own experience as the sole child of a single mother to demonstrate to supporters in his native North Charleston, South Carolina, that America continues to be a land of opportunity.
“Joe Biden and the radical left are attacking every single rung of the ladder that helped me climb,” he said. “And that’s why I am announcing today that I am running for President of the United States of America.”
With only 1% of support among registered Republicans according to Reuters/Ipsos polling, Scott faces an uphill battle in his bid to win the Republican nomination to take on Democratic President Joe Biden next year.
But with the possible exception of former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and fellow South Carolina native Nikki Haley, Scott will be the highest-profile Republican to announce his intention to take on Trump – the current front-runner – for the party’s nomination.
Some 49% of Republicans plan to vote for Trump, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling. Trump’s closest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, will jump into the race in the coming days, according to sources with knowledge of his plans.
Scott stands out in part due to his relentless optimism and his calls for unity. He often points to his own impoverished upbringing as proof that America remains a land of opportunity.
Still, it remains to be seen if a significant number of Republicans find his message appealing.
Many Republicans appear hungry for a bruising fight with Democrats this election. That is particularly true after New York prosecutors indicted Trump in March for allegedly falsifying documents to cover up hush money paid to a porn star. Most Republicans consider those charges politically motivated.
Scott, 57, is likely to be the only Republican senator to jump into the race, an oddity given that the Senate has traditionally been a staging ground for Republicans with presidential aspirations.
Among his political assets are his popularity in South Carolina, which plays a key role in the Republican race. It is the third state in the nation to hold a nominating contest in the state-by-state battle to determine a presidential nominee.
He is also a favorite among donors. Among his major backers is billionaire Larry Ellison, the co-founder of database software maker Oracle.
While Scott launched his candidacy in a filing with the federal election regulator on Friday, his speech to supporters on Monday marked the formal start of his campaign.