Republican presidential candidate and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott has recently been under scrutiny for his unmarried status. He is now saying those concerns are “a form of discrimination.”
After Axios released a story detailing potential donors’ concerns about Mr Scott’s bachelorhood, the presidential hopeful revealed that he has a “wonderful girlfriend,” but did not name her.
“The good news is that God has blessed me with a smart Christian woman,” he said on Fox News after being asked about the article. “But more importantly is: why are the headlines there? The headlines are there because as I rise in the polls, as people show up at my town halls, it scares my opponents.”
Mr Scott doubled down on that take when talking to the Washington Post this week, telling the outlet that pointing to his single status is a way to “sow seeds of doubt” about his campaign.
By contrast, some GOP candidates have flaunted their spouses along the campaign trail, like Florida Gov Ron DeSantis who often poses for photos alongside his wife Casey DeSantis. This tactic may be used for good reason. In US history, there have only been a handful of unmarried presidents. James Buchanan is the only former president to have never married, while Grover Cleveland got married for the first time while in office.
Mr Scott told the Post that this emphasis on his bachelorhood is a way “to say that, ‘That guy isn’t one of us.’”
“It’s like a different form of discrimination or bias,” Mr Scott continued. “You can’t say I’m Black, because that would be terrible, so find something else that you can attack.”
He told the outlet that he doesn’t intend to advertise his girlfriend as he is running for president. “I can’t imagine dragging her onto the campaign trail unless I have the intention of marrying her,” he said. “I hope that happens, to be honest with you.”
Mr Scott then paused before realising the weight of what he had just said. “I guess I should be careful about how I say that,” the South Carolina senator said, beaming a bashful smile. “Strike that comment.”
The 2024 candidate’s dating history has long been part of the spotlight. He previously touted his 30-year-old virgin status. Years later, when asked in 2012 if was sticking to the same abstinence pledge at the age of 46, he replied, “Yeah, not as well as I did back then.” Mr Scott added, “You’re better off to wait. I just wish we all had more patience.”
Years later, he was forced to defend his unmarried status to Axios in May: “The fact that half of America’s adult population is single for the first time, to suggest that somehow being married or not married is going to be the determining factor of whether you’re a good president or not — it sounds like we’re living in 1963 and not 2023.”
In recent history, another Republican Senator — Lindsey Graham — was also scrutinised in the same way when he threw his hat in the ring for the GOP nomination in 2016. Mr Graham addressed his single status in 2015: “If you are looking for Camelot, I’m not your guy...If you’re looking for glitz and glamour, I’m probably the worst choice in the bunch. If you are looking for a determined person to be president, I think I can fill that bill.”
When asked why he thought he had never been married, he replied: “It’s something I really don’t know the answer to, other than I think it’s OK. At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong about not being married. Having a marriage and a good family and children is a blessing. But I don’t think I’m a defective person by any means.”
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