How Tim Scott rose from poverty to become the only black GOP senator

CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Tim Scott knows the anger that comes with being both black and conservative. Recently, The View host Sunny Hostin said that being a black Republican is an oxymoron, and Scott, the only black Republican in the US Senate, just shook his head.

“The comments are ridiculous,” he said.

The GOP has “lobbied for underserved and minority communities that have been really hammered under President Biden,” he said, before pointing to rising inflation and how the average person can barely afford to put gas in their car and use energy to consume in his home, pay for their health care and take care of all other expenses.

“Compare that to what happened when we were in the majority in 2016-2020, when we saw African American unemployment soar to the lowest levels on record in the country’s history,” he said.

“The only question I have for these pundits on TV is why aren’t they conservative?” he asked.

Scott won't say if he's seriously considering running for president in 2024, but the senator has made it clear that his current bid for reelection will also be his last.
Scott won’t say if he’s seriously considering running for president in 2024, but the senator has made it clear that his current bid for reelection will also be his last.
Sean Rayford for Zuma Press/The NY Post

Tim Scott’s name is among the top line of those mentioned as potential Republican presidential candidates in 2024, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence and former President Donald Trump.

So does he plan to run in 2024? He doesn’t say it, but he admits he’s often asked that.

“I don’t think a day goes by that I haven’t been asked in the last two months. But I keep telling people my homeowners association presidency is two years from now,” he jokes.

A high school yearbook photo of Scott.  The senator said he initially struggled at school but found a mentor in a local restaurant owner and Air Force veteran.  Today Scott sees himself as a mentor "with a message of open opportunity."
A high school yearbook photo of Scott. The senator said he initially struggled at school but found a mentor in a local restaurant owner and Air Force veteran. Today, Scott sees himself as a mentor “with a message of open opportunity.”
Tim Scott/Facebook

Whatever happens, faith will guide his choice. “It will be the genesis of this decision,” he said.

Seacoast Church in nearby Mount Pleasant is “the most powerful force in my adult life,” added Scott of the Christian church, which had fewer than 1,000 members when he joined in 1997 and has over 25,000 today.

Despite rising to become the country’s most prominent elected black Republican, Tim Scott has never forgotten where he came from. After his parents separated when he was a child, he grew up in North Charleston in a single room with his mother and older brother.

Scott with his mother and grandfather - a former illiterate cotton picker with barely a third school education.  Despite those humble beginnings, Scott said his grandfather sparked his passion for learning.
Scott with his mother and grandfather – a former illiterate cotton picker with barely a third school education. Despite those humble beginnings, Scott said his grandfather sparked his passion for learning.
Instagram @votetimscott

His house – which was little more than a shack – was on a dirt road. Scott said his mother worked double shifts as a nursing assistant at a Charleston hospital and his grandfather left school in the third grade to pick cotton. Although he was illiterate, his grandfather held up the newspaper to “read” it in front of his young grandchildren just to teach them the importance of knowledge and education.

“My grandfather … had a palpable passion for progress,” Scott said.

“My grandmother, who cleaned houses, taught me the importance of work ethic and personal responsibility, and my mother, who is my true American hero…she taught me the dignity of work.”

Another high school-era picture of Scott, who credits much of his success to his strong Christian faith and membership of Seacoast Church near Charleston.  This belief, he said, will guide any future candidacy for office.
Another high school-era picture of Scott, who credits much of his success to his strong Christian faith and membership of Seacoast Church near Charleston. This belief, he said, will guide any future candidacy for office.
Tim Scott/Facebook

“Yet all three were always laughing and cheerful, even in the midst of poverty, as if to suggest that your circumstances do not determine your outcome. There’s something in you that is stronger than the circumstances around you and that’s really the basis of my approach to a happy warrior,” said Scott, 56, who is unmarried and has no children of his own.

“The one thing all three of these powerful people had in common was the importance of faith. By faith all things were possible.”

Nothing remains of the place his family called home but the dirt and gravel of the old street, but poverty remains in the neighborhood – and the crime that comes with it. Because of this, Scott said he always thinks of “people who live on the fringes.”

Scott at his childhood home during a taping of ABCs "In this week." Scott said growing up in poverty compels him to fight for vulnerable Americans, regardless of race.
Scott at his childhood home during a taping of ABC’s This Week. Scott said growing up in poverty compels him to fight for vulnerable Americans, regardless of race.
Tim Scott/Facebook

“Not just because I’m black, but because [of] my lived experience as a person in poverty, living paycheck to paycheck. Coming home and the phone isn’t working. Coming home and the power isn’t always on, coming home hungry sometimes with no food coming that evening.

“That experience … is now one of the reasons I fight the way I fight for people who live in difficult communities. I don’t care if you’re a white person in rural South Carolina or if you’re someone who lives on the border in Texas, a Hispanic or someone who … lives in one of the inner cities and is black,” he said.

Every day, he asks himself, is the American Dream real to him? “And then I put myself in these other shoes so I know the answer is yes. And that is my responsibility.”

Scott with his mother on Capitol Hill.  While Scott may be the only black Republican senator, he's quick to remind critics that the Democrats only have two black senators.
Scott with his mother on Capitol Hill. While Scott may be the only black Republican senator, he’s quick to remind critics that the Democrats only have two black senators.
AP

Scott admits he struggled in high school, but his life changed for the better when he met John Moniz — an Air Force veteran who owned the Chick-fil-A restaurant across from the movie theater where Scott worked as a high school student. Moniz immediately became a mentor.

Scott attended college, ran and won a seat on Charleston County Council, lost a seat in the Senate, briefly considered becoming minister, and finally won a seat in the State House in 2008. He toyed with the idea of ​​running for lieutenant governor as late as 2010 to change his mind and run and win the House seat in the same congressional district where the Civil War began.

Two years later, then-South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley named him to succeed retired Senator Jim DeMint, making him the first black US Senator from South Carolina. He ran for and won the full-term seat in 2016 and is seeking re-election to the Senate this year. In 2019, he said this would be his final run for the Senate office.

Scott confidant — and Charleston County Republican Party Chairman Maurice Washington — said his friend was the "Full package.... and would make an excellent presidential candidate."
Scott confidante — and Charleston County Republican Party chairman Maurice Washington — said his friend was the “full package…and would make an excellent presidential candidate.”
Richard Ellis for the NY Post

His longtime friend and fellow Conservative campaigner Maurice Washington — Charleston County’s first black Republican Party leader — said if Scott ran for president, he would bring a more secular perspective to the White House.

“He’s seen the best side and the worst side of America and he’s been able to speak about it with authority and experience,” Washington said.

“And the fact that he brings such a grassroots background into politics, starting at the County Council level, then to the State House level, then to the House of Representatives and Senate level, that’s quite an impressive resume. He is the whole package: clear eyes, clear head, likeable guy, scandal-free. I think at the right moment he would be an excellent candidate for the presidency. More importantly, he would make an excellent president.”

Scott, who is seeking re-election this year, receives the Senate oath of office from then-Vice President Joe Biden on Jan. 3, 2017 while his mother looks on.
Scott, who is seeking re-election this year, receives the Senate oath of office from then-Vice President Joe Biden on Jan. 3, 2017 while his mother looks on.
AP

Scott now sees himself as a mentor – as John Moniz was to him – to other young people with untapped potential.

“My mission is to positively impact the lives of a billion people with a message of opportunity,” said Scott.

Scott is the only black Republican in the US Senate: “Let’s not forget that the Democrats only have two black senators. Let’s not pretend that our margins are drastically different.”

https://nypost.com/2022/05/28/how-tim-scott-rose-from-poverty-to-become-only-black-gop-senator/ How Tim Scott rose from poverty to become the only black GOP senator

JACLYN DIAZ

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