AP Photo/Mic Smith

People Really Need to Be Taking Tim Scott More Seriously

A lot of the focus on the 2024 Republican primary has been on former president Donald Trump and current Florida governor Ron DeSantis. And, to be fair, it’s been for good reason. The two have dominated the polling as first and still-distant second-place candidates with some fluctuations in their individual numbers but still trending strong.

But since this primary has gotten underway, I’ve been keeping an eye not on either of those two but instead on Senator Tim Scott.

When he was close to announcing, I mentioned that Scott offered something unique when it comes to this race: An optimistic story and point of view. Since then, however, he has cemented himself as the famed “happy warrior,” though his emphasis is more on the “happy” than the “warrior.” Scott is not the type of brawler that the Republican base has been looking for of late. He’s no DeSantis and he’s certainly no Trump.

But, Scott has been running the slow-but-steady race, and it’s showing signs of working. He is raising a ton of money and his polling numbers are slowly climbing.

That, POLITICO points out this morning, is getting his opponents’ attention.

Rival campaigns have noticed. And now, like the proverbial crabs in a pot, they have started plotting an effort to arrest Scott’s momentum and drag him back into the pack.

In recent days, super PACs associated with DeSantis and NIKKI HALEYhave singled outScott for criticism. Operatives in multiple campaigns, we’re told, are beefing up their oppo files on the senator, and some briefed Playbook in recent days about the likely lines of attack.

“He’s never really had a real challenger in terms of a serious primary or general, so in that sense he’s pretty unvetted,” said one ally of a rival candidate. “The scrutiny will come.”

There’s a reason the DeSantis and Haley campaigns need to prepare for the rise of Tim Scott. DeSantis has positioned himself as the outlier when it comes to non-Trump candidates, and none of the others have come particularly close. That could change if Scott continues to climb in the polling, and DeSantis has been working on a campaign restructure and reset amid stagnant numbers and worries over money.

Haley, meanwhile, has to try to stop the rise of Scott because South Carolina is one of the key early states, and they both seek to win the state as natives of it.

Haley’s campaign has not been able to get any traction, and the frustrations are evident. If Trump gets narrow victories or even loses any two of the three early states – Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina – his campaign is crippled (especially as he continues to get buried under indictments). It stands to reason that a former governor of South Carolina would have a good chance to help topple Trump in that state. Pulling off a win there would be great for her.

APTOPIX Election 2024 Scott
AP Photo/Mic Smith

Except you have a current U.S. Senator (and one of the most popular out there) also from South Carolina running in the same presidential primary. That poses a bigger threat to Haley, and her campaign has to act.

The POLITICO piece referenced above is clearly the testing ground for several of the attacks you can expect to see launched against Scott: His perceived weakness on foreign policy, his work on criminal justice reform, and past statements (from about 30 years ago) about the Republican party as a “racist” organization.

But, there’s a reason Tim Scott is so appealing to voters, and it has nothing to do with any of that: He offers hope.

American families don’t want to just be reminded that everything sucks and the Democrats have made it worse and they’ll continue to make things terrible. They don’t want a bunch of bitter fighting between candidates over who is worse. They want to know that there is a better and brighter tomorrow. They want that “Morning in America” kind of magic again. Scott’s campaign is the one closest to bringing that back, and his messaging has been centered around the idea that America’s brightest days are ahead.

Republicans are kind of splitting the Barack Obama campaign strategy of “Hope and Change.” Most candidates are focused on the “Change,” but Scott is focused on the “Hope.” That’s what’s getting him money and support. It’s worth keeping your eye on him and his campaign.





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