Politics

Going from senator to president won’t be easy for Tim Scott

ProDentim

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But keeping some distance from the Capitol makes sense for the South Carolina Republican — who is running against a slew of current and former governors — given the recent track record of his party peers.

“If you look at the numbers, just being a senator is not necessarily enough. To burst, you have to do something else, too,” said Paul, the Kentucky GOP senator who is an expert in using the bedroom floor to make headlines.

Jason Roe, a GOP strategist who worked on Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign, put it more bluntly.

“The Senate is such a garbage pile for candidates running for president,” Roe said. “The less attention you draw to being in the Senate, the better.”

Inside the Capitol, Scott declines interviews that could make the news in Washington. While Cruz chose a fight against the government shutdown, Warren turned “nevertheless, she persisted” into a rallying cry and Paul took control of the Senate for hours, Scott focuses on wacky legislation from the Committee on banks.

It’s the kind of approach that puts Scott in a class of his own among the second tier of GOP primary candidates: Unofficially, he’s shaping up to be the preferred 2024 pick of the Hill’s most established GOP lawmakers, despite the endorsement by former President Donald Trump.

The whip of the party, John Thune, argues Scott. Former Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) hosted a fundraiser for Scott in Philadelphia last week. Former Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) co-chairs a super PAC supporting Scott’s candidacy. And the support of Scott Sen. rounds of mike (RS.D.) said more support would come from their colleagues.

“When you’re one of the 100, it’s hard to stand out without looking like you’re showing off, isn’t it? That’s the challenge Tim has,” Rounds said.

Scott has had a few moments in the Senate, but they don’t underpin his presidential platform: Think of his speeches about the Capitol police profiling race and his ultimately unsuccessful police reform effort in 2020. So don’t expect Scott to stage a filibuster speech, as Sanders and Paul did. Nor does he join the 2020 Democrats who ran for president vowing to blow up Senate rules to push through his agenda.

While Scott’s record is more substantial than that of some former White House aspiring lawmakers, he doesn’t necessarily rely on his policymaking to win over voters in early states. During the presidential campaign, Scott spoke less about his political portfolio in the Senate and more about current cultural issues, saying that America “is not a racist country” while denouncing the “indoctrination” in schools on issues. of race and sexuality.

His Senate work returns during his campaign but does not occupy the prominent role that Cruz’s fights against the establishment did during his 2016 presidential bid.

“It actually speaks well of Tim Scott, that he’s using his job as a senator to be a senator and running for president on his own terms,” ​​the senator’s first term said. JD Vance (R-Ohio), who endorsed Trump. “I would be quite frustrated, especially as a new member of the corps, if you have a guy running for president using his position to do so.”

As Scott tries to get out of the crowded field of Republicans looking to overtake Trump as the party’s standard bearer, he’s battling against a historic headwind. Since the Reagan era, former Vice President Dan Quayle is the only current or former GOP senator to win a general election on a presidential ticket. The late Bob Dole and John McCain both won their party’s nomination and then lost the general election.

Democrats have put a current or former senator on every ticket for the past four decades, by contrast, and have often nominated tickets for the entire Senate. Al Gore, Biden and Harris all moved from the Senate to vice president, with Biden and Barack Obama winning the White House.

Since the turn of the 20th century, only two GOP senators have become president — Richard Nixon and Warren Harding — compared to five Democratic senators who have made the leap.

Being a senator is a launching pad for national politics, Rubio said, “but once you’re an active candidate trying to directly influence voters to vote for you, you better be in the running.” ‘Iowa”.

This change carries great risks, as Rubio knows from experience. During its 2016 primary race, the Floridian faced attacks from its GOP competitors for missing floor and committee votes to campaign.

Scott missed several Senate confirmation votes on Biden’s nominees last month, including at least one during his campaign in Iowa. In those cases, his presence would not have changed the outcome, but his absence allowed Vice President Kamala Harris to avoid the need for deciding votes.

Even if he has to miss more votes, Scott has earned something like a Senate GOP leadership pass.

“We’re trying to work with his team to make sure he’s there for the big votes, but I’d rather see him on the campaign trail. I think he’s a great messenger for our team, our agenda, for our prospects” , said Thune.

Scott declined to comment for this story. His campaign spokesman Matt Gorman pointed to the senator’s creation of Opportunity Zones, a tax break that encourages investment in economically distressed areas, and his bipartisan work on anti-fentanyl legislation as two examples. of his role in Congress in supporting his bid for the presidency.

“Tim Scott has an unparalleled record of crafting conservative legislation,” Gorman said.

Perhaps while Scott’s campaign learned lessons from recent history, when younger, more energetic senators fell to Biden in the 2020 Democratic primary and Trump ousted four GOP senators in 2016. Being a senator isn’t a disadvantage in the GOP, the party’s nominee said in 2012, but voters don’t necessarily want to hear about the bills you’ve passed or the fights you’ve fought.

“Anyone who runs for president today and spends their time talking about what they’ve done is losing,” the senator said. Mitt Romney (R-Utah). “They need to talk about what they plan to do.”

National public polling averages for the GOP primary show Scott neck and neck with his home state rival, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, hovering around 3.5 percent. Haley nominated Scott to the Senate, a move that no doubt helped position him for this moment.

The senior GOP senator from Iowa argued that Scott is trying to grab voters by the collar over the next six months with a different tactic: his ad spend, which has totaled nearly $3 million so far. in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“You can’t say he doesn’t do much to get attention if [he’s] buy television,” senator. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said.

Scott will “rise in the polls dramatically,” predicted Grassley, who is neutral in the primary. “But it’s going to be slow work.”

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