Tim Scott staffers say he didn’t tell them about dropping out of 2024 race

Scott ends his campaign after his message about opportunity fell flat

Eric Garcia
Monday 13 November 2023 07:52 EST
Republican Tim Scott suspends presidential campaign

Sen Tim Scott (R-SC) announced on Fox News on Sunday evening that he would suspend his presidential campaign after he failed to gain traction in the Republican primary.

Mr Scott made the announcement on the programme of former congressman Trey Gowdy, who came to Congress the same year he did in 2011.

Shortly after delivering the news on live TV, members of Mr Scott’s staff told Politico they were caught completely off guard.

The staffers said he made a call immediately after the interview and acknowledged that he “may have caught you by surprise” but said he “tried to be as strategic as possible dealing with this”.

Speaking on Fox News, Mr Scott said: “I think the voters, who are the most remarkable people on the planet, have been really clear that they’re telling me ‘not now, Tim.’ I don’t think they’re saying ‘no,’ Trey, but I do think they’re saying not now. And so I’m going to respect the voters and I’m going to hold on and keep working really hard and look forward to another opportunity.”

The sole Black Republican in the Senate and the first Black senator elected from the South since Reconstruction, Mr Scott attempted to point to his inspirational life story as the son of a single mother and how his family went “from Cotton to Congress” in his lifetime since his grandfather picked cotton.

The message struggled to find an audience save for some donors, such as Oracle executive Larry Ellison, whom he cited in his announcement address. Mr Scott frequently said his story refuted the ideas about race that Democrats typically promote.

“I would say without any question that the truth of my life destroys the lies of the radical left,” he said during the third Republican presidential debate in Miami on Wednesday. He frequently refuted the idea that the United States is a racist country and talked about growing the party.

“The great opportunity party is now winning back African American voters and Hispanic voters because we are working on a foundation based on faith,” he said on the debate stage.

But despite raising enough money and polling well enough to appear on the debate stage, Mr Scott failed to have break out moments either on the campaign trail or during the debates.

Like other candidates, he ran significantly behind former president Donald Trump in surveys. His focus on an optimistic message failed to resonate alongside Republican candidates who aggressively targeted marginalised groups such as Republican businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida Gov Ron DeSantis.

But he also failed to distinguish himself as a viable anti-Trump alternative as most non-Trump Republicans flocked to former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who in 2013 nominated Mr Scott to fill a vacant Senate seat.

Mr Scott’s announcement comes after former vice president Mike Pence suspended his campaign last month. His announcement also came two months before the Iowa caucuses.

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