Tim Scott suspends ’24 campaign because his sunny message didn’t resonate

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who tried to win a place in the Republican presidential field with a message of hope built on his life story – the son of a single mother, rose from poverty to become the only black Republican in the Senate – announced on Sunday that he was suspending his campaign.

“I think the voters, who are the most prominent people on the planet, have been clear that they’re telling me, ‘Not now, Tim,'” Mr. Scott said Sunday night on Trey Gowdy’s Fox News program. “I don’t think they’re saying, Trey, ‘No.’ But I think they’re saying, ‘Not now.'”

Mr. Scott said he has no intention of endorsing another candidate in the Republican primary race. “The best way to be helpful is not to burden myself,” he said. He also dismissed the idea that he could serve as someone else’s running mate. “Being vice president was never on my to-do list,” he said.

In many ways, Mr. Scott’s decision was not surprising: He has struggled in the polls and in recent fundraising, and would need to reach a new threshold of 80,000 donors, as well as a higher number in opinion polls, to qualify for the next Republican National Committee-sponsored debate. , which will be held in December.

Mr. Scott conducted the interview with Fox News from a television studio at his home, and told his staff in a call after speaking with Mr. Gowdy, according to a person familiar with the matter. A number of staff members learned the campaign had been suspended from television viewing, three people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Scott had canceled events in Iowa over the weekend, with his campaign stating that he has the flu. And he started the week with cryptic message on X, formerly known as Twitter, which quoted Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”

In a sign of how frozen the campaign for the Republican nomination has been for months, with former President Donald J. Trump dominating by double digits in every poll and only boosted among his voting base by the four criminal indictments he faces, Mr. Scott’s apparent departure on Sunday night caused a bit of a stir.

Mr. Scott, 58, the first black Republican elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction, entered the race in May with a message far more hopeful than the often apocalyptic tenor of some in the Republican field, including Mr. Trump.

But Mr. Scott’s brand of sunny optimism has found no traction in the modern GOP, where the impulse among the party’s core voters, encouraged by Mr. Trump, is to be combative. He was edged out in the race to become the top Republican alternative to Mr. Trump in Iowa by rivals including Nikki Haley, a fellow South Carolina and former state governor, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Mr. Scott began his campaign with $22 million in fundraising, a significant war chest that put him in a position of financial strength. He spent millions of dollars on television ads to bolster his candidacy, but his polls remained stagnant, and he never produced a breakthrough campaign moment.

The super PAC backing him, buoyed by $30 million in donations in 2022 from Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, announced in mid-October that, after seeing no progress for Mr. Scott, it was cutting millions of dollars in television ad bookings it had slated for the fall months. .

The momentum seemed to be Mr. Scott took a hit after the first presidential debate, when he was criticized for appearing reluctant to enter the fray. Mr. Scott made it to the third debate, which raised voting and donor thresholds, by only the narrowest of margins and mostly stuck to familiar talking points.

He has also never been particularly interested in attacking Mr. Trump. And the former president was not interested in attacking Mr. Scott either, telling aides that he liked the South Carolina senator and planned to say only good things about him.

One of the memorable moments of Mr. Scott’s campaign came near the end, at last week’s debate in Miami. The senator, who is single and has long brushed off prying questions about his love life, appeared arm-in-arm with a woman who was later confirmed to be his girlfriend.

The revelation after the debate attracted much more attention than his performance on stage.

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