It’s that time again. With the next presidential election less than a year and a half away, we are seeing more and more potential Republican candidates who hope to challenge incumbent Democrat Joe Biden for the presidency. Some of these are familiar faces, including former president Donald Trump, who remains the Republican frontrunner despite a series of legal challenges and setbacks. It also includes Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whom many consider to have a better chance of defeating Biden than Trump and his tainted legacy.
But there are fresh faces, too, including Tim Scott. Scott is the Senator from South Carolina who has quietly been gaining momentum in recent years. A few have compared his meteoric political rise to former President Barack Obama, and Scott has now developed presidential ambitions of his own.
But what do we know about Scott’s life and history? And what about this unconventional senator that may help him secure the Republican presidential nomination? Keep reading to find out!
A humble background
It’s an open secret that many powerful politicians come from old money. Generations of wealth and fame can help market prospective politicians, giving them a clear lead over less affluent rivals. Tim Scott, however, is someone with a very humble background.
Growing up, Scott was raised by a single mother and didn’t think a college education was in his future. However, he has frequently credited a Chick-fil-A manager with helping him get admitted to college, making him the first in his family to go to college. Afterward, he began selling insurance, but he always expected that he had a bigger destiny on the horizon.
And he was correct: at the relatively young age of 29, he was elected to the Charleston County Council. This began a political career that would come to define the rest of his life.
Tim Scott’s political history
Once Tim Scott got into politics, he began to work his way up. First, he served 15 years with the Charleston County Council. This helped him master many of the subtleties of local politics, and after that, he was ready for a bigger challenge.
In 2008, he was elected to the state House. After only one term, he began campaigning for the Congressional spot and won. He ended up serving two terms in Congress and was then elected to the Senate, where he continues to serve.
Again, though, Scott has larger ambitions. Having come this far, he’s ready to throw his hat into the ring for the presidency.
Walking the line on Donald Trump
Once Tim Scott became a Senator, he made history. Specifically, he became the first African American from the South to become Senator since the days of the Reconstruction.
While it’s not always easy or comfortable to talk about, Scott is also notable for being such a prominent Black politician who is also Republican. The traditional narrative is that it is mostly white candidates run for (and vote for) Republican politicians, but Scott is living proof that one’s race doesn’t have to define one’s politics.
With that being said, he has managed to walk a fine line over the years on supporting Trump but not doing so blindly. For example, he helped to bring Trump’s First Step Act into law back in 2018. But he wasn’t afraid to criticize Trump on multiple occasions, including for the horrific line about “good people on both sides” in the wake of the 2017 white supremacist rally at which one protester was murdered.
A speech that was powerful and not polarizing
In short, we know that Tim Scott has a long political history that he should certainly be proud of. But in terms of what he would like to accomplish as president, we only know what he told us in the speech in which he announced his intention to run. Fortunately, it ended up being one hell of a speech.
As reported by NPR, Scott’s speech touched on the need for modern politics to stop being so polarizing. “We need a president who persuades not just our friends and our base,” he said. “We have to have a compassion for people who don’t agree with us.”
That is obviously a clear dig at candidates such as Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, both of whom have gone all-in on tribalism and culture wars that divide everyone into only two camps. Don’t mistake Scott for a liberal, though: in his speech, he also denounced “Joe Biden and the radical left” and brought up fears of Critical Race Theory in schools, a common rightwing talking point.
Faint chance of winning, or a future president on the rise?
There are already several Republican presidential contenders, and more are on the way. With that being said, only one of them will emerge victorious and get to take on Joe Biden in 2024. Bottom line: is that likely to be Tim Scott?
While it’s too early to definitively forecast anything, the blunt truth is that he has an uphill climb ahead of him. According to Newsweek, Donald Trump is still the primary frontrunner, polling at 53 percent among Republican voters. Ron DeSantis is the next frontrunner, polling at 21 percent. Meanwhile, Vox reports that Scott is polling at only one percent, and he’ll face stiff competition from his own state of South Carolina with former Governor Nikki Haley running as well.
Still, much can change. Frontrunner Donald Trump continues to face an array of legal challenges that could, at worst, could either remove him from running or nullify much of his current support. If that happens, the nomination could be anyone’s game, and Scott could end up securing the nomination that his entire political career has been building up to.