By MEG KINNARD (Associated Press)
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina filed paperwork on Friday to enter the 2024 Republican presidential race, testing whether a more optimistic vision of America’s future can resonate with GOP voters who have elevated partisan brawlers in recent years.
The Senate’s only Black Republican has made his grandfather’s work in the cotton fields of the Deep South a bedrock of his political identity. Yet Scott rejects the notion that racism remains a powerful force in society, and he has cast his candidacy and rise from generational poverty as the realization of a dream only possible in America.
He is scheduled to make a formal announcement on Monday at Charleston Southern University, a private Baptist college and Scott’s alma mater, in his hometown of North Charleston.
Scott already has scheduled TV ads to begin airing in the early voting states Iowa and New Hampshire early next week, the most significant advertising expenditure by a potential or declared candidate in the early stages of the 2024 nominating campaign.
Scott tries to focus on hopeful themes and avoid divisive language to distinguish himself from the grievance-based politics favored by those leading the GOP field, such as former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who hasn’t yet entered the race but is expected to do so soon.
The senator refuses to frame his own life story around the country’s racial inequities. He insists that those who disagree with his views on the issue are trying to “weaponize race to divide us,” and that “the truth of my life disproves their lies.”
During a February visit to Iowa, which holds the first GOP presidential caucuses, Scott spoke of a “new American sunrise” rooted in collaboration.
“I see a future where common sense has rebuilt common ground, where we’ve created real unity, not by compromising away our conservatism, but by winning converts to our conservatism,” he said.
But Scott has his limits. During that same trip, he railed against political correctness in much the same fashion as Trump and DeSantis.
“If you wanted a blueprint to ruin America, you’d keep doing exactly what Joe Biden has let the far left do to our country for the past two years,” he said. “Tell every white kid they’re oppressors. Tell Black and brown kids their destiny is grievance, not greatness.”
Scott speaks often about his hardscrabble roots. He was raised by a single mother who worked long hours as a nurse’s assistant to provide for him and his brother after her divorce from their father. Scott, who describes himself as a lackluster student, graduated from Charleston Southern University with a political science degree before opening an insurance business.
Associated Press writer Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.