Sen. from South Carolina. Tim Scott announced in an interview with Fox News on Sunday that he is suspending his presidential campaign.
“I love America more today than I did on May 22. But when I go back to Iowa, it won’t be as a presidential candidate. I’m putting my campaign on hold,” he said.
Sunday night’s announcement surprised many of Scott’s aides and donors. Two people close to his campaign said they had not been given advance notice, even as it became increasingly clear that Scott faces an uphill battle to break through in the GOP primary.
Scott’s presidential prospects have faded over the past several weeks, starting with the super PAC’s decision to pull his ads. Last month, the Scott campaign said it would go “all out” in Iowa in an effort to gain ground on its primary rivals, targeting the first nominating contest on the GOP calendar.
Scott kept his decision to drop out of the race close to his vest, people associated with his campaign said, but the timing was more surprising than the announcement. His team was worried about qualifying for the fourth Republican debate next month, the last candidate to meet donor and poll thresholds in last week’s debate. He hoped a strong debate show would boost his candidacy, but even he conceded to advisers and allies that it wasn’t happening.
By leaving the race now, people close to his campaign said he could return to the Senate without an embarrassing result in Iowa. He’s securing a chance for a future political run — and getting out of Donald Trump’s crosshairs if the former becomes a presidential candidate.
“Tim delivered a hopeful, hopeful message — but the base of the Republican Party is gone,” a GOP official who supported Scott told CNN.
Scott told Fox News’ Trey Gowdy that he won’t endorse another Republican candidate, saying he believes “the best way to help me” is to stop endorsing the primary.
Scott said he has no intention of accepting the vice presidential nomination, reaffirming a stance he has often made on the campaign trail.
“I ran for president,” he said. “I think I’m called to run. I’m not called to win, but I’m certainly called to run. … Being vice president was never on my to-do list for this campaign, and it certainly isn’t now.
Prominent Scott donor and metal boss Andy Sabin told CNN he was “disappointed but not surprised” the senator decided to step aside. And now he’s backing former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley in the GOP primary.
Scott launched his campaign in May, hoping to bring a hopeful message to a Republican Party dominated by figures like Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has portrayed America as a nation in decline. He made his personal story a central narrative of his campaign, often talking about growing up in South Carolina in poverty, raised by a single mother, and using those experiences to counter Democratic arguments on a wide range of issues, from criminal justice to education to economic policy. .
“The truth of my life shatters their lies,” he often said at campaign events.
The South Carolina senator entered the race with a big cash advantage after converting his Senate campaign account to a presidential fund. It gave him $21 million in fundraising and allowed him to fill the airwaves with early ads in Iowa and New Hampshire. Scott’s TV spots became ubiquitous in the early states, and over the summer, viewers at campaign events were able to repeat lines from his commercials back to him.
Scott campaign officials often touted his war chest to explain his path to the candidacy, arguing that he would have the resources to stay in the race through the South Carolina primary while other candidates faced pressure to drop out.
Still, the Scott campaign began to feel the pressure in the fall after confidence in Mission PAC, the super PAC backing the senator’s White House bid, cut its remaining $40 million television ad booking, citing difficulties in “breaking even.” Republican voters. The announcement came shortly after fundraising reports showed the campaign was burning through cash reserves at a high rate.
In response, the Scott campaign focused its strategy on Iowa, shifting staff and television ad bookings to the state and significantly increasing his attendance. The focus on Iowa was accompanied by a more aggressive rhetorical approach, with Scott offering sharp criticism of President Joe Biden and Republican rivals such as DeSantis, Haley and businessman Vivek Ramasamy.
As the nation’s most prominent black Republican politician, Scott often leaned into conversations about race as a means of raising funds and courting voters. He cited his own experiences as saying that America’s struggles with racism were largely in the past. In the second Republican primary debate in California, Scott grabbed headlines by promoting anti-poverty programs created in the 1960s and outlining in stark terms his belief that the country has moved past its history of slavery and Jim Crow-era segregation.
“Black families survived slavery. We survived poll taxes and literacy tests. We survived discrimination woven into the laws of our country. It was hard to survive. [President Lyndon] Johnson’s Great Society, where they … decided to take the black father out of the house and get a check in the mail, and you can now measure unemployment, crime, disaster,” Scott said during the debate.
A devout Christian, Scott made his faith a recurring theme, often quoting Bible verses at campaign events. His campaign prioritized Iowa evangelical voters and community leaders, who form a significant coalition of Republican caucuses. Scott quickly came out in support of a 15-week federal ban on abortion, drawing praise from anti-abortion groups and leading evangelical political figures and pushing his rivals to do the same.
Scott’s latest chapter in a political career that began in 1995 when he won a special election for the Charleston County Council was his exit from the presidential race. He held that seat for more than a decade before he was elected to the South Carolina House in 2008. A one-time state legislator, Scott won a US House seat representing South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District.
GOP Sen. Scott joined the U.S. Senate in 2013 after Governor Haley appointed him to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Jim DeMint. Scott retained the seat in a 2014 special election, was re-elected to a full term in 2016 and won a second full term last year.
Scott has been more open than most Republicans in working with Democrats in Washington — he led bipartisan police reform negotiations with New Jersey’s Democratic Sen. Cory Booker that ultimately broke down. But he has one of the most conservative voting records in Congress. She rarely broke with Trump during his presidency and, on the campaign trail, often expressed her conservative positions on taxes, criminal justice and education.
Throughout the campaign, Scott’s criticism of Trump — the front-runner for the GOP nomination — has been relatively tame compared to his attacks on other primary contenders. He has frequently expressed support for policies enacted during the Trump administration, particularly the 2017 tax cuts he helped draft in Congress, but has consistently argued that Trump lacks the support in key swing states needed to carry Republicans to victory in the general election.
“If you look at the results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada … one of the things you want to know is: ‘What specifically is the difference between Tim Scott and the other candidates, Donald Trump?'” Scott told reporters. Iowa campaign event in October. “The difference is, I believe I’m the most electable candidate we have in the field.”
Scott suggested on Sunday that he would seek “another opportunity” to launch a White House bid.
“I think the voters, who are the most remarkable people on the planet, are really clear that they’re telling me, ‘Not now, Tim.’ Trey, I don’t think they’re saying ‘No,’ but I think they’re saying ‘Not now,'” he said. Scott said. “So I’m going to respect the voters … and work hard and look forward to another opportunity.”
This story has been updated with additional information.