EXCLUSIVE – Republican Sen. Tim Scott says his “faith in America” listening tour – which officially kicks off Wednesday in Iowa, the state that holds the first contest in the GOP presidential nominating calendar – is “about the mission more than it is the timeline.”
Scott, who’s mulling a 2024 GOP run for the White House, delivers an address at Drake University in Des Moines, and later headlines a Polk County GOP fundraising dinner, as Fox News first reported earlier this month.
The only Black Republican in the Senate and rising star in the GOP will also team up Wednesday morning with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to meet with faith leaders, students and parents at St. Anthony Catholic School in Des Moines.
“I look forward to being able to share my message of hope and opportunity with folks around the state and at the same time lay out the problems that we face as a nation,” Scott emphasized in an exclusive national interview with Fox News Digital as he arrived in Iowa Tuesday evening.
FIRST ON FOX: TIM SCOTT TO KICK OFF 2024 LISTENING TOUR
The senator charged that “two years of Joe Biden’s liberalism and his progressive approach has really devastated our economy, inflation at a 40-year-high, we’ve seen crime sky-high….we’ve seen the most open and porous borders as we’ve had in the entire history of our country.”
Scott said that he wants “to lay out the problems of the left and how it impacts every single American and I want to solve those problems. I want to lay out the solutions for those problems and why we as Americans should have our faith in each other restored.”
It’s a theme that could transform into a presidential campaign stump speech if Scott eventually decides to launch a 2024 bid. And in another sign that will generate more buzz about an increasingly likely White House run, Scott was running digital ads in Iowa ahead of his visit.
TIM SCOTT SAYS ‘THERE’S ROOM FOR TWO’ GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES FROM SOUTH CAROLINA
Former President Donald Trump launched his third White House run in mid-November. And former South Carolina governor and former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley last week became the second major Republican to declare their candidacy. The GOP presidential nomination field is expected to grow in the weeks and months ahead.
Asked about his own timeline, Scott told Fox News that “for me it’s about distilling the mission of restoring hope and creating opportunities, talking about an optimistic yet conservative message that if it resonates, it will give me a lot of good feedback. So for me it’s really about the mission more than it is the timeline.”
Scott cruised to re-election in November to what he has said will be his final six-year term in the Senate. And Scott, a ferocious fundraiser, had more than $20 million in his campaign coffers at the beginning of the year, which could be transferred to a presidential campaign. The fundraising war chest could give Scott a head start over some of his potential rivals, or afford him some extra breathing room to make his decision.
“For me the most important thing to do is not to worry about what’s in the treasury – which thank God we do have a lot of money in there – the truth though is if we spend our time talking to people, visiting kitchen tables and restaurants, if we understand and appreciate what’s on the minds of people across the country and specifically here in Iowa, it will give me a better barometer of what they want from leadership,” Scott said.
“The thing I’m focused on right now is making sure that the Faith in America tour is not only successful but that we have an opportunity to go far and wide,” the senator emphasized.
Scott road tested some of his themes last week, in a high-profile Black History Month speech at The Citadel in Charleston the day after Haley launched her campaign a few miles away. And Scott arrived in Iowa as Haley was also campaigning in the state. Last week after announcing her candidacy, Haley stumped for three days in New Hampshire, which votes second in the GOP primary calendar. South Carolina holds the third contest.
Haley and Scott served together in the South Carolina state House. Haley won the governorship in 2010, the same year Scott was elected to Congress. And three years later, Haley appointed Scott to fill an open Senate seat.
Haley and Scott have moved in many of the same political circles, and have shared many of the same advisers, donors, and allies, which would complicate matters if the senator faces off against the governor in the 2024 Republican nomination fight.
“I bet there’s room for three or four. Certainly, there’s room for two,” Scott said in a radio interview late last week on a Greenville, South Carolina station when asked whether there’s room for both Haley and Scott in a 2024 GOP presidential field.
And on Tuesday, Scott stressed that “Nikki is an incredible candidate. She’s a friend. She’s a constructive person. I hope she does well on the campaign trail.”
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