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Tim Scott moves toward 2024 White House run

South Carolinian could be the only GOP senator to seek nomination

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is forming a presidential exploratory committee.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is forming a presidential exploratory committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Tim Scott took the next step toward becoming the first, and perhaps only, Republican senator to run for president in 2024.

The South Carolina senator on Wednesday announced that he was launching an exploratory committee in a video message recorded at Fort Sumter, with the release timed to coincide with the anniversary of the first shot of the Civil War. He made a direct attack at President Joe Biden, but in describing his modest family roots he also took a veiled swipe at the GOP’s billionaire frontrunner for the nomination, former President Donald Trump.

“The spoons in our apartment were plastic, not silver. But we had faith. We put in the work and we had an unwavering belief that we too could live the American dream. I know America is the land of opportunity, not a land of oppression. I know it because I’ve lived it,” Scott says in the video. “That’s why it pains my soul to see the Biden liberals attacking every rung of the ladder that helped me climb.”

Scott could be the only Senate Republican to toss his hat into the 2024 presidential race, with Trump taking a huge share of the potential primary vote at this stage. The potential that there will not be a large field of Republican senators vying for the nomination could mean that they can keep their Senate absences to a minimum — something that proved a challenge for Democrats in the 2020 presidential cycle, when several were seeking a chance to run against Trump.

Scott is on a swing through early primary and caucus states, including Iowa and New Hampshire, that will culminate in his home state of South Carolina. The most recent Winthrop University poll of South Carolina Republican registered voters, conducted at the end of March and the beginning of April, found Scott with 7 percent support for the GOP nomination.

Trump was the clear leader at 41 percent, with another South Carolinian, with former governor and U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley in a virtual tie for second with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (18 percent and 20 percent, respectively).

Votes backed Trump positions

Jaime Harrison, the Democratic National Committee chair and a fellow South Carolinian, said in a statement responding to Scott’s latest move, “Even before he refused to name a policy difference with Trump, Scott was a fierce advocate of the MAGA agenda — supporting national abortion bans and championing plans to end Medicare and Social Security as we know them.”

Scott voted with Trump’s position no less than 93 percent of the time, according to CQ’s annual vote studies. He voted with Trump 99 percent of the time in each of the two years that Republicans controlled both the House and Senate while Trump was in office.

Scott is currently the ranking member on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

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