November 15, 2023
‘He Did Not Lean Into Being A Black Man’: Black Republicans Explore Tim Scott’s Failed Presidential Run
Black Republicans expected Scott’s campaign to highlight the growing diversity within the GOP. That never happened.
Black Republicans are disappointed with Sen. Tim Scott’s failed presidential run, according to a report from Politico.
Black conservatives expected Scott’s campaign to highlight the growing diversity within the GOP, but instead what they got was a candidate who used his status as the only Black Republican in the Senate to paint himself as a victim of unfair characterization from the left.
Republican strategists like Deanna Bass Williams, who worked on Ben Carson’s 2016 presidential campaign, wanted more discussion from the South Carolina senator about what it means to be a Black Republican.
“He did not lean into being a Black man,” Williams told Politico. “I always see the need to aggressively engage Black audiences, period.”
Despite the overall sentiment from Black Republicans regarding his use of race in his campaign, he had one shining moment while debating Florida Governor Ron DeSantis about state curricula that teaches that enslaved people were taught useful skills.
“There is not a redeeming quality in slavery,” Scott retorted. “America has suffered because of slavery, but we’ve overcome that.”
Black Republicans generally regarded that performance as one of Scott’s strongest, but also were left to wonder privately about what could have happened if he had leaned into that for the duration of his campaign.
Scott never managed to capture more than 5% of the vote, which pales in comparison to recent runs from Black Republicans like Herman Cain and Carson. Carson was seen as a serious contender in 2016, at one point leading Donald Trump in some surveys of Republican voters. However, Scott’s campaign was more centered on policy, organization, and governing, which may have held him back.
Veteran Republican strategist Elroy Sailor told Politico, “Their campaigns were more celebrity driven. Tim Scott’s campaign is not celebrity driven.”
Sailor did point out one positive from Scott’s campaign. “I think he has proven that you can raise money. That is an early criticism that there used to be about African American Republicans that we didn’t have the ability to raise money,” Sailor said. “So I think he’s crossed that Rubicon.”
Scott himself seems to believe that his moment may have passed, as he explained in an Nov. 12 interview on Fox News with his longtime friend Trey Gowdy. Scott’s announcement even took his staff by surprise, according to Politico.
He said he would not endorse a candidate, and brushed off any suggestions at becoming vice president.
“When I go back to Iowa it will not be as a presidential candidate,” Scott said to Gowdy, who raised his eyebrows. “The voters, who are the most remarkable people on the planet … They’re telling me, ‘not now, Tim.’ I don’t think they’re saying, Trey, ‘no,’ but I do (think) they’re saying, ‘not now.’”