Sen. Tim Scott mulls presidential bid while hosting Iowa events
Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott toured St. Anthony Catholic School in Des Moines on Feb. 22, 2023. (Photo by Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott sidestepped questions about running for president in 2024 while kicking off a series of Iowa events Wednesday with Gov. Kim Reynolds at a Des Moines Catholic school.
The South Carolina Republican is in Iowa for his “Faith in America” listening tour, with plans to speak at Drake University and headline a Polk County GOP dinner later Wednesday. He did not say whether he plans to join the presidential race, but said he’s holding events to hear from Iowans about the best way to restore faith in America.
“The Faith in America tour really is about reestablishing the focus on faith in each other, faith in our future and faith in this amazing nation,” Scott told reporters. “… Bottom line is, as I hear more from the constituents here in Iowa and around the country, it will give me more information on what to do next.”
Gov. Kim Reynolds accompanied Scott on a tour of St. Anthony Catholic School in Des Moines, where the politicians spoke to students and parents about the importance of “school choice.” Scott praised the governor for signing the private school scholarship program into law, which will give families the choice to establish an educational savings account and use state money to pay for private school tuition and related fees.
“I really proud to have Senator Scott here with me to, really, to tour this exceptional school,” Reynolds said. “And you’ve been such a champion of school choice — he was a good supporter and encourager when we were trying to get it through — and you really (have) just a great record out of the federal level of really driving school choice and helping kids.”
Reynolds also appeared with another South Carolina Republican this week — former Gov. Nikki Haley, who also commended the Iowa governor for passing the new “school choice” law. Haley, who served as U.N. ambassador in former President Donald Trump’s administration, announced her presidential candidacy earlier in February and held events in Iowa Monday and Tuesday.
The governor told Scott to come back and “come often.” Reynolds has said Iowa is ready to welcome Republican presidential hopefuls, applauding the Republican National Committee for keeping the Iowa caucuses first on the GOP presidential nominating calendar as national Democrats moved Iowa out of the early state line-up.
Scott did not answer a question about Haley Tuesday but said in a radio interview, “there’s room for two” South Carolina contenders in the presidential race. He said he has texted with Trump, another announced presidential candidate, but not to talk about the 2024 election cycle.
Iowa Democrats criticized Scott’s positions on health care and tax cuts in a news release about his Iowa events.
“Nothing Tim Scott says to Iowans today will erase his extreme record: supporting plans to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, banning abortion with no exceptions, and putting special interests ahead of working families,” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart said in a statement.
According to excerpts obtained by Politico from his planned speeches in Iowa, Scott was set to take aim at other Republicans like Trump and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for their polarizing approaches to politics. But Scott told reporters his listening tour is not about getting confirmation that he’s the right person to run against President Joe Biden in 2024.
“My mom might not think I’m the guy, but I will tell you the mission is far more important,” Scott said. “And so what you do is you take the time to travel the country … to understand and appreciate what the constituents, your bosses, really want from elected officials. To the extent that you understand that, you’re better informed and educated on the next steps. Until then, you ought to not think about those next steps.”
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