Tim Scott focuses on his pitch to Black voters amid Trump VP speculation

By | April 15, 2024

Last July, a town hall attendee in Salem, New Hampshire, asked Senator Sen. Tim Scott if he “believed he could influence the historically Democratic-supporting African American community.” Scott’s response remained reserved.

“Maybe,” the then-presidential candidate replied. “I am a fairly conservative candidate. That doesn’t necessarily bode well for my ability to convince die-hard Democrats, black or white or any color.”

But now, with Scott in the middle of speculation about the former president Donald TrumpIn choosing a 2024 running mate, the South Carolina senator is leaning on his ability to connect with the growing number of Black voters who polling data shows are open to voting for Trump in this election.

Scott, along with other black Republicans in Congress, has launched a weekly series, “America’s Starting Five,” in an effort to both make black conservatives more visible and reach black voters. The series, which will discuss politics, race and the 2024 election” and which Scott hopes to continue at least through the summer, is also a means for him to tap into a skill set that could be an asset to Trump: his perceived ability to expand the tent of the party.

“Sen. Scott recognizes that he can attract people to the party, especially black men,” said a source familiar with the series’ planning. “This is an attempt to emphasize that.”

A composite analysis of 2023 NBC polling data found that among Black voters, men under 50 gave by far the lowest ratings to the president. Joe Biden – and the highest for Trump, although a majority still viewed Trump negatively.

Yet nearly 40% of those voters said they would vote for Trump over Biden in a general election, compared with no more than 15% in any of the other age and gender categories among Black voters, a split well outside the margin of error. for those subgroups.

That’s largely the reason behind other recent surveys showing Trump receiving more support from Black voters than ever, cutting into Biden by double digits compared to 2020 results, even as the president still leads among Black voters.

A change of tone

Scott’s willingness to focus on his race is a departure from the early days of his presidential campaign, when he sometimes hesitated to lean too deeply into his identity even as supporters encouraged him to emphasize a factor they believed he made him the most electable of 2024. presidential candidate on the side of the Republican Party.

“Here are four non-black, black people,” Scott said as he moderated a roundtable discussion along with four other prominent black Republicans in the first episode of his new series: Reps. Burgess Owens of Utah, Byron Donalds of Florida, John James of Michigan and Wesley Hunt of Texas.

The panelists took turns dissecting a misstep from Biden’s past, and the group’s focus had shifted to a 2020 interview he did with radio host Charlamagne tha God, in which Biden suggested that Black Americans who don’t vote for him “ain’t really black.’

“The good news is that in 2024, it looks like four in 10 of us aren’t black enough for Joe Biden,” Scott continued.

As Scott’s presidential campaign continued last year before he resigned in November, his tone began to change. He became more vocal not only about his appeal to the small but growing number of black conservatives across the country, but also about how he was uniquely positioned to help the party make more inroads with voters of color, as perhaps its most prominent black Republican elected official in the election. country.

“I believe I’m creating a red wave where we win back the Senate, we expand our majority in the House of Representatives, and you do that by having the kind of candidate who – the literal truth of my life – the lies of the radical left destroys. and creates a red wave,” Scott said during one of his final campaign stops in October.

According to him, that “red wave” would be fueled in part by his life story: a black man from South Carolina, raised by a single mother in a low-income neighborhood, who went from “cotton to Congress” in one go. generation, as he often riffed during his events.

“I have lived a similar experience to people stuck in poverty, growing up in single-parent homes today, wondering if the American dream can work for them,” Scott said.

A valuable surrogate

Trump seems aware of Scott’s potential and has certainly worked to keep his former primary opponent close.

In addition to appearing alongside Trump at several campaign rallies in the final days of the Republican primaries, Scott was invited by Trump last week to attend and speak at his Mar-a-Lago fundraiser, which the campaign said raised $50 million among groups, including Trump’s. main super PAC and other fundraising committees.

A day before the Republican primaries in South Carolina, Scott accompanied Trump to the Black Conservative Federation’s annual gala, where Trump received the “Champion of Black America” ​​award. Scott was the only former Trump rival to appear at the event.

And Trump has repeatedly said that Scott is better off campaigning in his name than campaigning for himself.

The Biden-Harris campaign appears skeptical that Scott — or whoever Trump ultimately chooses as his running mate — will succeed in recruiting more black voters to the Republican Party.

“Regardless of who Donald Trump’s running mate is, these are the facts: While he was president, Black unemployment and uninsured rates rose, his encouragement of white nationalism divided the nation, and his botched response to Covid-19 caused black people died disproportionately.” said Jasmine Harris, the Biden campaign’s Black media director. “Black voters remain among the most informed and engaged voters in every election, and in November they will stand behind Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, who have put Black Americans at the forefront of their administration’s work.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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