‘I choose freedom, hope, opportunity’: Scott launches presidential bid

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott launched his presidential campaign on Monday, offering an optimistic message he hopes will be a contrast to others.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 10:59 AM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott launched his presidential campaign on Monday, offering an optimistic message he hopes will be a contrast to others.

He picked his alma mater, Charleston Southern, as the place to officially open his campaign.

It comes just over a month after Scott launched an exploratory committee – signaling he was joining this growing field.

He pitched himself as the leader who can bring the country back from what he characterized as a retreating nation under President Joe Biden.


Scott, the only Black Republican currently serving in the U.S. Senate, reiterated his past assertion that America isn’t a racist country – and said in choosing him, Americans would also pick victory over victimhood and greatness over grievance.

His name is the latest on a growing list of Republicans vying for the nomination – including former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former President Donald Trump – with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reportedly launching his bid this week, as well.

Scott didn’t mention his conservative competition, but told the North Charleston crowd he’s “the candidate the far left most fears.”

He said: “When I cut your taxes, they called me a prop. When I refunded the police, they called me a token. When I pushed back on President Biden, they even called me the N-word. I disrupt their narrative. I threaten their control. The truth of my life disproves their lies.”


Scott has frequently denounced Democrats for raising what he calls false social and political grievances.

Scott, 57, planned to huddle with home-state donors after the kickoff event, then begin a whirlwind, two-day campaign swing to Iowa and New Hampshire, which go first in GOP presidential primary voting.

A number of high-profile GOP senators have already backed Donald Trump’s third bid for the White House, including Scott’s South Carolina colleague, Lindsey Graham. Trump nonetheless struck a conciliatory tone to start, welcoming Scott to the race in an online post Monday and noting that the pair worked together on his administration’s signature tax cut.

A source of strength for Scott will be his campaign bank account. He enters the 2024 race with more cash on hand than any other presidential candidate in U.S. history, with $22 million left in his campaign bank account at the end of his 2022 campaign that he can transfer to his presidential coffers.

It’s enough money, his team says, to keep Scott on the air with continuous TV ads in early voting states until the first round of votes next year.

Scott also won reelection in firmly Republican South Carolina -- which voters third on the Republican presidential primary calendar -- by more than 20 points less than six months ago. Advisers bet that can make Scott a serious contender for an early primary victory that could give him momentum heading deeper into the primary race.