Curt Flewelling, FISM News
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott has officially thrown his hat into the ring as he joins an ever-expanding field of Republicans who are running for president in 2024. The popular conservative chose his alma mater of Charleston Southern University, to make his declaration.
The Senator borrowed a quote from Republican icon Ronald Reagan as he told the crowd, “Our party and our nation are standing at a time for choosing.” He also highlighted his family’s amazing journey with his now familiar, ‘from cotton to Congress’ line.
He harkened back to an era when his grandfather faced the horrible adversities that were a way of life for African Americans in the United States. He told the riveted audience, “By the time he was in the third grade, his education was over. He was forced out of school and had to start picking cotton. But he lived long enough to watch his grandson pick out a seat in Congress.”
Scott has chosen to bill himself as a “color-blind conservative,” an obvious reference to Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous quote from his “I Have a Dream” speech. Dr. King said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Although optimistic, some contend that Scott’s opinion that America is the land of opportunity and self-reliance may not resonate with black voters. Felicia Killings, a black conservative and CEO of the Felicia Killings Foundation, asserts that the “color-blind” ideology is never going to be effective in courting African Americans.
She told The Hill, “When it comes to Tim Scott, he has done like pretty much every other typical Black Republican trying to play the color blind messaging, which appeals to white conservatives. But we are in a very different shift right now, where that’s not working.”
The sobering reality for Scott is that he will need to court black voters in a world where only 1 in 10 African Americans identify with the Republican party. Many GOP strategists feel that Scott should focus more on “identity politics” in order to change that trend.
It will be challenging for Scott to thread the needle on his “America is the land of opportunity” rhetoric and the cold hard reality that this opportunity is elusive at best for many in the black community.
His rhetorical questions of “victimhood or victory” and “grievance or greatness” may be a bit edgy and fall flat when speaking to a black community bombarded with a media message that the GOP simply does not care about criminal justice and police reform.
Regardless of these messaging challenges, Tim Scott is moving forward, navigating these political realities while focusing on his main opponent, President Biden. He has clearly taken aim at the president telling supporters, “Joe Biden and the radical left are attacking every rung of the ladder that helped me climb, and that is why I am announcing today that I am running for President of the United States of America.”