Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) abruptly exited the GOP presidential race late Sunday. Scott’s campaign team was caught off guard by his sudden exit. A mere 13 minutes before the announcement, his campaign sent out an email seeking donations, pledging to support Scott’s “strong leadership and optimistic, positive vision to lead our country forward.” The email declared that “everything is on the line” for winning the White House and urged readers to take advantage of “one last chance” to donate Sunday to help Scott reach his campaign goal.”
His team only learned of his intentions to drop out of the race after hearing Scott announce it on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Night in America” with Trey Gowdy.
Scott’s exit from the race highlights the challenges he and his rivals face squaring off against President Donald Trump. Despite facing four criminal indictments and a host of legal troubles, Trump maintains a significant lead in the polls over his competitors. The prevailing sentiment within the party suggests that, barring a miraculous turn of events, the race is effectively over. Trump’s dominance leaves little room for GOP contenders to shine, making it an uphill battle for anyone seeking the nomination against him.
Scott, who officially entered the race on May 22, 2023, has faced an increasingly uphill battle in gaining momentum in the polls, even though he received substantial financial support from high-profile donors. Despite spending millions in his bid and aiming for a positive campaign, he often found himself eclipsed by other candidates, especially during debates where he seemed to fade into the background.
Consistently low polling numbers loomed over Scott’s qualification for the upcoming fourth debate, which demands higher poll numbers and more donors, adding more challenges to an already struggling campaign.
Scott’s political future is now in question. He had previously said that his 2022 Senate reelection would mark his final run for that office. He has, however, been floated as a potential candidate for the South Carolina governorship, with the next election slated for 2026. The current governor, Henry McMaster, a staunch supporter of Trump, is term-limited, setting the stage for what’s anticipated to be a highly competitive GOP primary in the upcoming gubernatorial race.
Trump’s campaign remained silent in the immediate aftermath of Scott’s exit. Notably, Trump has been cautious in refraining from criticizing the senator, leading some within his inner circle to view Scott as a potential candidate for the vice presidential slot. But Scott denies any aspirations to the role of Trump’s vice president, stating that the No. 2 slot “has never been on my to-do list for this campaign, and it’s certainly not there now.”
Scott’s departure marks the second significant exit from the race since the end of October. Former Vice President Mike Pence suspended his campaign two weeks ago, delivering the announcement at a Republican Jewish Coalition gathering in Las Vegas, where he declared, “This is not my time.” Pence, however, faced lower poll numbers than Scott and grappled with a more precarious financial position.
The exits of both Scott and Pence have reshaped the landscape of the Republican primary race, leaving an evolving field of contenders.
Scott stated that he wouldn’t immediately endorse any of his remaining Republican rivals. He expressed confidence in the voters’ intelligence, saying, “The best way for me to be helpful is to not weigh in on who” voters should support.
With Scott’s departure, Nikki Haley, Trump’s former United Nations ambassador and the ex-governor of South Carolina, increased her footing among the remaining candidates. Following Scott’s unexpected exit, some of his donors expressed disappointment, but many announced their intentions to support Haley in the primary.
Several of Scott’s 2024 rivals expressed their best wishes for him on Sunday night.
On social media, DeSantis praised Scott as a strong conservative with “bold ideas” about getting America back on track.
Former rival Mike Pence characterized Scott as “a man of faith and integrity who brought his optimistic vision and inspiring personal story” to people across the United States.
Scott graciously declared, “I love America more today than I did on May 22,” adding, “I think the voters, who are the most remarkable people on the planet, have been really clear that they’re telling me, ‘Not now, Tim.'”
Scott was a rare presence in the GOP presidential candidate pool, preferring to avoid his rivals’ mud-slinging and personal jabs. But ultimately, his soft-spoken demeanor and politeness didn’t get him the attention he needed to stand out in the field.