Scott Tries to Distinguish Himself From GOP Rivals in Town Hall

Senator Tim Scott used a Fox News town hall on Tuesday night to elevate his candidacy for the 2024 Republican nomination as he challenges his party’s frontrunners, former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

(Bloomberg) — Senator Tim Scott used a Fox News town hall on Tuesday night to elevate his candidacy for the 2024 Republican nomination as he challenges his party’s frontrunners, former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. 

“We have a responsibility to pass this nation on to the next generation, healthy, whole, and looking in the windshield of life, not the rearview mirror,” Scott, a South Carolina Republican, told an appreciative audience in Myrtle Beach, a popular seacoast resort in the state. “I refuse to sit on the sidelines and let my America become a victim of the radical left.”

The event presented an opportunity to leverage his standing in the polls. While most surveys show him in the upper half of the expanding GOP roster, he trails well behind Trump and DeSantis. South Carolina also holds one of the early primary races, which could prove criticial in a contest with many competitors. 

Scott is one of two South Carolinians running for the 2024 nomination, the other being Nikki Haley, a former United Nations ambassador and a former governor. It was she who appointed Scott to the Senate in 2012.

He seemed at ease in Myrtle Beach, often rising to speak directly to the audience while Hannity remained seated. Throughout the night, he spoke of his family’s humble origins and highlighted his conservative record on policy issues while striking his characteristic even-tempered and positive tone. 

Earlier: Tim Scott Enters Race to Topple Trump Backed by Wall Street Cash

Although he drew contrasts with his better known challengers, he avoided directly singling out Trump or DeSantis – instead attacking President Joe Biden.

Asked by an audience member how he distinguishes himself from DeSantis and Trump, Scott sidestepped, saying “the biggest difference is between me and Joe Biden. That’s where I’m focusing my attention. These are our problems not other Republicans.”

He didn’t shy away from discussing Biden’s son Hunter who has struck a plea deal with the Justice Department, that will likely to keep him out of prison. “Let me just say we all know this, that the big guy has some explaining to do without any question.”

Scott added, “It is unacceptable and un-American to weaponize the Department of Justice against your political opponents. It’s just wrong.” 

Yet Scott continued to maintain his stance as the “optimistic and faith-based“ candidate, It’s unclear whether that will help him stand out.

“I believe America can do for anyone what she has done for me. If we focus on restoring hope, creating opportunities, and protecting the greatest land on God’s green earth, that is a good start,” Scott told another member of the audience.

“People are starving for an optimistic, positive message with a backbone and conservative principles underneath.”

In an attempt to distinguish himself from his challengers – Scott highlighted his position as one of the few Black Republicans in Congress to challenge the Democratic Party’s monopoly on racial issues.

“I’ve done the surveys, I’ve run around the country. African Americans, around 81% want the same level of policing, or more policing, not less. That’s a lie from the radical left,” Scott said.

“When I wrote a bill to help refund the police because the crazy left defunded the police, they called me a token because they are opposed to helping the very people they say they care about the most,” said Scott referring to the Justice Act, which was blocked by Senate Democrats who called it an inadequate response to nationwide calls for police reform.

Scott used foreign policy to demonstrate clear differences with Trump and DeSantis, seeming to hearken back to the Republican Party’s stances before its populist takeover by Trump.

“I do care who wins the Ukrainian conflict. I believe Ukrainians are willing to put their lives on the line, and I hope Zelenskiy pulls it out,” he said, referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. “This summer offensive will be really important in that engagement.”

Trump has said ending the war is more important than who wins, and DeSantis once called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “territorial dispute” — a statement that he eventually walked back. 

Hannity hosted a town hall with Trump early this month. Several Republican primary candidates have taken part in CNN town halls, including Trump, Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Scott currently has support from 3% of potential Republican primary voters, putting him in fourth place, according to FiveThirtyEight. Ahead of the South Carolinian is Trump with 53%, DeSantis with 21%, and Pence with 6%.

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