South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott filed papers Friday morning to enter the 2024 presidential race, formalizing a campaign that has been months in the making.
Scott is facing a tough campaign for the Republican presidential nomination against fellow South Carolinian Nikki Haley and former President Donald Trump.
Despite the criminal investigations into hoarding public records and his efforts to throw off the 2020 presidential election, Trump remains a formidable Republican primary candidate with wide leads in many polls.
Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, is less well-known than Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, another Republican laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign.
This presidential bid is no surprise. Last year, Scott published a book titled “America, a story of redemption,” fulfilling the unofficial requirement that all candidates for national office be published authors.
As a senator, Scott emerged as a leading Republican voice for police reform after the 2020 killing of George Floyd sparked national Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality.
Republican leaders have delegated to Scott the task of negotiating with Democrats some sort of compromise on higher standards for law enforcement. The two sides failed to reach a deal, however, as Scott rejected Democratic demands to increase police accountability by reforming “qualified immunity,” the legal doctrine that protects government officials from having to pay monetary damages for wrongdoing. (It’s unclear how many other Republicans would be willing to reform qualified immunity even if Scott had passed it.)
After the high-profile police killing of Tyree Nichols this year, Scott said the Democrats’ preferred bill, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, remains a “non-starter.”
“I’m working toward common solutions that actually have a chance of passing,” Scott said on Twitter in February. “Decisions to increase funding and training to make sure only the best wear the badge. Decisions that would make a difference in places like Memphis and Kenosha.”
Amazingly, despite apparent agreement that police departments across the country could benefit from higher standards, lawmakers failed to reach even a modest compromise — unlike bipartisan negotiators who hammered out a deal on gun reform last year after high-profile mass shootings.
Some lawmakers make up for poor legislative track records with rhetorical bombast, but not Scott, who avoids inflammatory statements and maintains a soft-spoken disposition, often refusing to speak to reporters in the hallways of the Capitol.
“I’m not really into theatrics,” Scott said on the Senate floor in 2020 during a speech complaining that Democrats had not supported his proposals for police reform. “I don’t run to the microphones.”
Scott offered a reason for his relatively quiet demeanor: “Why should I say what other people are saying?”