- By Sam Cabral
- BBC News, Washington
Senator Tim Scott has become the latest Republican to join the packed 2024 race for President of the United States.
Scott, 57, who has represented South Carolina in the chamber since 2013, vowed to revive America’s “culture of greatness.”
With around $22m (£18m) on hand, he enters the fray with more money than any of his rivals.
Former President Donald Trump is the Republican frontrunner for the party’s nomination.
At a launch event in his hometown of North Charleston on Monday, Scott, who is black, touted his personal story — the grandson of a Deep South cotton worker who made it to the US Senate — as the embodiment of the American dream.
He talked about being raised by a single mother and how his family made the transition from cotton to Congress in his grandfather’s life.
Scott has spoken repeatedly about his experiences as a black man in America, from being stopped by police seven times a year to being arrested inside the US Capitol.
But in his campaign launch speech, he rejected the notion that a nation is defined by a racial divide.
Criticizing the political left, he said, “I am living proof that America is a land of opportunity, not a land of oppression.” “The truth of my life refutes their lies.”
He pledged to transform “a nation in decline”.
“Joe Biden and the far left are attacking all the steps of the ladder that helped me climb,” he said. “We’re not retired. We’re in retirement for Biden. So all we have to do is come back.”
Scott is one of three black American senators in the 100-seat Senate, along with Democrats Cory Booker and Raphael Warnock.
The mild-mannered lawmaker, a prodigious bachelor, won endorsements from two of his fellow senators, including John Thune, the second-most Republican in the house.
“There may be someone in the United States who doesn’t like Tim Scott, but I’ve never met him,” said longtime Republican adviser Whit Ayres. “He has the potential to be a very good candidate.”
He added, “For the Republican Party to be competitive in a rapidly changing America, it must provide voters with a different face, and Tim Scott clearly represents a different face.”
Later this week, Scott will travel to Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote in the Republican primary.
Having already filed papers to run for chairman of the Federal Election Commission, he also earned $6 million in airtime in both states. This is the biggest ad buy for the 2024 race to date.
He has the backing of some of the right’s wealthiest donors, including Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, and is expected to challenge the Evangelical Christian vote, a major Republican bloc.
The former insurance salesman joins a field that also includes former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, technology entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and radio television host Larry Elder.
Others are also expected to run, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence.
National polls put Mr Trump ahead of the competition, with Scott drawing less than 5% support.
“Senator Scott is going to have a huge impact on this race because he has the money behind him,” South Carolina Republican strategist Dave Wilson told the BBC.
“When you look at the fact that he has more money than the other candidates, it will be easier for him to convey the optimistic message that he is conveying.”
The South Carolina-born citizen campaign should focus on a more positive and less populist form of conservatism.
Scott told Fox News last year that he “didn’t have a lot” of political disagreements with Mr. Trump. He was a leading supporter in the Senate for the then president’s 2017 tax cuts.
If he does not win the nomination, the senator is named as a potential running mate for the party’s final nominee for 2024.
Tim, good luck! Trump wrote on social media that his friendly message stood in stark contrast to the attacks he usually launches against his rivals.
DeSantis, who is second in the poll but has lost out to Trump in recent weeks, is expected to officially join the race later this week.