By Jeff Louderback
Surging in the Iowa polls among a crowded pool of Republican presidential hopefuls, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told a crowd at the Iowa GOP’s annual Lincoln Dinner on July 28 that he is “living proof” that anything is possible in America, “but Joe Biden and the radical left” is “attacking the values that made this possible.”
Mr. Scott was one of 13 candidates vying for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination who spoke at the event, a rare occasion when former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared in the same venue at the same time.
Since he announced his candidacy the same week as Mr. DeSantis in May, Mr. Scott has typically polled in single digits on the national level. A pair of recent surveys among Iowa voters shows that Mr. Scott is gaining ground in the crowded GOP primary field around six months before the state’s first-in-nation presidential caucus.
A Fox Business poll had Mr. Scott in third place with 11 percent behind Mr. Trump (46 percent) and Mr. DeSantis (16 percent).
Another survey, paid for by Mr. Trump’s campaign, indicated that Mr. Scott had 10 percent support while Mr. Trump led with 46 percent and Mr. DeSantis remained in second with 16 percent.
Last week, a super PAC aligned with Mr. Scott announced it would spend $40 million on TV and digital advertising in Iowa and other states with early primaries later this year.
Iowa Gov. Reynolds Praises Scott
While Mr. DeSantis launched a five-stop bus tour across Iowa and vowed to visit all 99 counties in the state, Mr. Scott appeared at a town hall in Ankeny, Iowa on July 27 with Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds.
“Every time I leave an event that Tim has spoken at, I leave feeling more hopeful about our country and the opportunities that are ahead of us,” said Ms. Reynolds, who also spoke at the Lincoln Dinner.
Ms. Reynolds praised Mr. Scott’s message of optimism and said he has “a huge heart for our country.”
While Ms. Reynolds has not endorsed any GOP presidential hopeful, Mr. Trump criticized her in a Truth Social post earlier in July for choosing to remain neutral.
“I opened up the Governor position for Kim Reynolds, & when she fell behind, I ENDORSED her, did big Rallies, & she won,” Trump wrote. “Now, she wants to remain ‘NEUTRAL.’ I don’t invite her to events!”
After arriving in Iowa earlier this week, Mr. Scott was asked about new charges against Mr. Trump. He refused to speak negatively about the former president, noting that the Department of Justice “too often seems to be weaponized against political opponents.”
Mr. Scott said he plans to remove all political appointees in the FBI and Department of Justice if he is elected president.
He added that the U.S. should close the southern border and finish construction on the wall that started under the Trump administration. He said that, as president, he would focus on stopping Mexican drug cartels that “must cease to exist on our side of the border.”
At the Lincoln Dinner, Mr. Scott talked about the values his grandfather taught him when he was growing up in the state he represents as a senator.
‘Kneel to the Father’ and ‘Stand for the Flag’
His grandfather told him “that we kneel to the Father in prayer” and “that we stand for the flag.”
“He said our American flag is a symbol of freedom, and liberty, and justice for all,” Mr. Scott said. “These were powerful words from a man born in the Deep South who understood a very different America.”
Mr. Scott recalled when he moved into his grandfather’s house after his parents divorced when he was 7.
“He said, ‘Son, you can be bitter or you can get better. But you can’t be both,’” Scott said. “These were valuable lessons.”
Mr. Scott then turned his attention to his mother, who worked as a nurse’s aide.
“She taught me that there is dignity in all work and that if you’re able-bodied in America, you work,” Mr. Scott said. “That’s called America. If you take out a loan, you pay it back. And if you commit a violent crime, you go to jail. And if God made you a man, you play sports against men.”
Mr. Scott said that he is “living proof” that anything is possible in America, “but Joe Biden and the radical left, he is attacking the values that made this possible.”
“He is tearing down every rung of the ladder that helped me climb. I was a kid trapped in poverty, who did not believe that in America, all things are possible. But I had a mentor who told me all things were possible,” Mr. Scott added.
“Protecting the values of America is protecting the rungs on the ladder that allow the poorest, most vulnerable students in this nation to climb,” he continued. “We must protect our values. I’m running for president because I know America can do for anyone what she’s done for me.”
Mr. Scott praised law enforcement officers and talked about the importance of reducing crime. He chastised “the radical left” for wanting to “fund and demonize and demoralize the police.”
“It’s our responsibility to redefine and rebuild local law enforcement. We must restore dignity and respect. But we also have to get tougher on violent criminals from carjackers to cop killers who should never see the light of day again,” Mr Scott said. “And by doing so, we will allow grandmothers like the one that raised me not to be trapped in our house from the time the sun goes down until the time the sun comes up.”
At a campaign stop earlier in the day, Mr. Scott said he plans to reverse the Internal Revenue Service’s recent 10-year $80 billion budget boost and devote half that money on new hiring and higher pay for border patrol agents.
‘No Silver Lining in Slavery’
While Mr. Scott refrained from criticizing Mr. Trump, he did weigh in on the controversy centered on the candidate he is drawing closer to in the polls.
Mr. DeSantis and the Florida state government recently approved a social studies curriculum that explores the history of African slavery in America. It covers multiple topics that include positive influences and contributions made by African Americans as inventors, explorers, artists, and leaders.
One piece of text has fueled criticism that the curriculum is being used to justify the slavery of Africans—“Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
Mr. Scott said that “there is no silver lining in slavery.”
“The truth is anything you can learn, any benefits that people suggest that you had in slavery, you would’ve had as a free person,” Mr. Scott explained. “Slavery was really about separating families, mutilating humans, and even raping their wives. It was just devastating.
“So, I would hope that every person in our country, and certainly someone running for president, would appreciate that. People have bad days. Sometimes, they regret what they say. And we should ask them again to clarify their positions,” he added.
In response to the curriculum, Vice President Kamala Harris claimed last week that Florida wanted to “replace history with lies” and that middle school students would be told that “enslaved people benefited from slavery.”
Mr. DeSantis told a Florida TV station on July 25 that Ms. Harris was promoting a “fake narrative” to use against his presidential campaign.
“There is no agenda here. It is just the truth,” Mr. DeSantis said. “And they talk in gory detail a lot of the bad in American history, including, of course, the injustice of slavery. But she is trying to perpetuate a hoax.”
Though Mr. Scott is soaring in recent Iowa polls, he still trails Mr. DeSantis by a wide margin nationally.
The RealClearPolitics’ average of polls as of July 25 showed Mr. Trump leading the GOP primary with 52.4 percent support, followed by Mr. DeSantis at 18.2 percent. Mr. Scott (3 percent) is in sixth behind Vivek Ramaswamy (5.4 percent), Mike Pence (5.2 percent), and Nikki Haley (3.7 percent).