U.S. Sen. Tim Scott drops out of 2024 presidential race

By: - November 13, 2023 11:49 am

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott answered questions during a campaign stop at the City Limits diner in Maquoketa Oct. 21, 2023. (Photo by Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott announced Sunday he is suspending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Scott made the announcement during a Fox News interview and shared some advice on Sunday Night in America with Trey Gowdy: “If you ever wanna love your country more, run for president.” The South Carolina Republican, who launched his presidential campaign in May, said that his time on the presidential campaign trail was “one of the most fantastic experiences of my entire life.”

While Scott said he enjoyed his time campaigning for president, he was suspending his campaign for the GOP nomination.

“I think the voters, who are the most remarkable people on the planet, have been really clear that they’re telling me, ‘Not now, Tim,'” Scott said. “I don’t think they’re saying, Trey, ‘No.’ But I do think they’re saying, ‘Not now.’ And, so, I’m gonna respect the voters and I’m gonna hold on and keep working really hard and look forward to another opportunity.”

Scott started his campaign with significant backing from Republicans looking for an alternative to former President Donald Trump, who leads in the race to become the Republican presidential nominee. The South Carolina senator started the race with $22 million carried over from his 2022 Senate run, and the Trust in the Mission (TIM) super PAC spent millions on ads for him in Iowa and New Hampshire.

But by October, the super PAC cancelled most of its remaining $40 million in campaign ad spending. Rob Collins, TIM PAC co-chair, wrote in a memo to donors that the decision was reached because of the current lack of appetite for Trump alternatives among Republican caucus-goers and primary voters.

“We are doing what would be obvious in the business world but will mystify politicos — we aren’t going to waste our money when the electorate isn’t focused or ready for a Trump alternative,” Collins wrote.

Scott’s campaign announced plans to shift their resources to go “all-in on Iowa.”

In the most recent Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll, Scott had the support of 7% of likely Republican caucus-goers while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley were tied at 16%. Trump kept a double-digit lead with 43% of likely GOP caucus-goers who listed him as their first choice in the caucuses.

Scott did not tell his staff that he planned to end his campaign Sunday, according to NBC News.

His decision comes as some Republicans seek to consolidate the field and focus on a single candidate to compete with Trump in the 2024 Republican nominating cycle. Haley, a fellow South Carolina Republican, has picked up speed as foreign policy has become a larger focus for Republicans following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

Haley’s campaign, hoping to overtake DeSantis, has reserved $10 million for an Iowa and New Hampshire ad campaign that is set to launch in December.

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. They have experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald.