Digital Media Center
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Gate 61
920 Paul Bryant Drive
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0370
(800) 654-4262

© 2024 Alabama Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WUAL is an auxiliary transmitter as we upgrade the main transmitter.
Alabama Shakespeare Festival Enter for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Republican Sen. Tim Scott is officially running for president

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., gives remarks at his presidential campaign announcement event at Charleston Southern University on Monday in North Charleston, S.C.
Meg Kinnard
/
AP
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., gives remarks at his presidential campaign announcement event at Charleston Southern University on Monday in North Charleston, S.C.

Updated May 22, 2023 at 4:08 PM ET

South CarolinaSen. Tim Scott announced his run for the Republican presidential nomination Monday morning in North Charleston, S.C.

The senator, who has represented South Carolina in the Senate since 2013, portrays himself as a true conservative with a positive story to tell.

"We need a president who persuades not just our friends and our base," he told supporters in his hometown. "We have to have a compassion for people who don't agree with us. We have to believe that our ideas are so strong and so powerful and so persuasive that we can actually take it to the highest points in the world and be successful but we also have to be able to take it all the way down to places that today are hopeless and prove that who we are works for all Americans."

As for his own upbringing, being raised by a single mother, Scott says they found strength in faith and family and a determination to succeed — all things he accused Democrats of working to destroy.

"From the time the sun goes down until the sun comes up, Joe Biden and the radical left are attacking every single rung of the ladder that helped me climb. And that's why I'm announcing today that I am running for president of the United States of America," he said.

In his 40-minute announcement speech, Scott highlighted his rise from poverty to prosperity and said that America is not a racist country. Scott is the only Black Republican senator in the U.S. Senate.

In defending the founding fathers of this country, Scott told his audience: "We need to stop cancelling our founding fathers and start celebrating them for the geniuses that they were. They weren't perfect, but they believed that we could become a more perfect union."

Despite his stature in the Senate, Scott enters this race with little name recognition nationally

In recent polling he ranks well back in the pack of current and potential candidates, earning support in the low single digits. In contrast, former President Donald Trump's support sometimes tops 40 or even 50 percent.

The first caucuses and primaries are still more than eight months away, so candidates looking to gain on Trump have some time. But in his announcement speech, Scott chose not to even mention Trump or any of his other rivals. He has said Americans want to hear from a candidate who expresses a positive and optimistic view of America. Presumably that won't preclude launching political attacks, but there were no such broadsides Monday.

Scott also unveiled what will be one of the recurring applause lines in his campaign stump speech. With the focus for now squarely on Biden and the Democrats, he's not shy about entering into the culture war battles that have been so prominent in recent years.

"I will lead a revolution for excellence in our schools. Less C-R-T and more ABCs," adding a pitch for school choice for parents. "No child and no child should be forced to attend failing schools simply because they live in the wrong zip code."

He is the second South Carolina Republican to enter the race for the GOP nomination

Scott joins former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who declared her candidacy in February. It was Haley who just over a decade ago appointed him to the Senate to fill a vacancy. Both are very popular in their home state, which is a pivotal early voting state for both Republicans and Democrats. The South Carolina primary is the first in the South and often sets a candidate on a path for the nomination. Even so, an April poll by Winthrop University shows both Haley and Scott doing better than they do nationally, but even in South Carolina both still trail Trump by a wide margin.

Scott did pick up one key endorsement as he begins his campaign. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota — the No. 2 Republican in the chamber — is backing his friend and colleague. Thune also appeared at the kickoff rally in North Charleston.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.
News from Alabama Public Radio is a public service in association with the University of Alabama. We depend on your help to keep our programming on the air and online. Please consider supporting the news you rely on with a donation today. Every contribution, no matter the size, propels our vital coverage. Thank you.