By Tony Kukulich
Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC, made an enthusiastic, albeit brief, appearance along with a full slate of Republican candidates at a political rally held in Bluffton’s Oyster Factory Park Monday afternoon, Oct. 3.
Scott is campaigning for reelection in the November midterm race.
Greeted with a standing ovation from 200 to 300 supporters in attendance, Scott addressed the crowd for a little more than 10 minutes. He started his remarks with a prayer for victims of Hurricane Ian and then delivered a populist message that resonated with his supporters.
“In the hardest times in American history, we come together,” Scott said. “We don’t divide. It’s one of the things that makes us the most exceptional people on earth. American exceptionalism is real because we the people come together when it matters most.”
Much of Scott’s speech was criticism of the Democrats in general, and of the Biden administration in particular, on matters including inflation, the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and crime.
“You defund the police, no bail for those criminals, and you blame the police,” Scott said. “We are common-sense conservatives. We want to re-fund the police. We want to bring the resources back to the law enforcement officers, and we want to say thank you for putting on the uniform and being willing to serve your community. Government’s first responsibility, the primary responsibility of government, is to take care of the citizens. Security is job one, not two, job one.”
Scott did not take the opportunity to discuss his record and referenced his political platform in only the most broad terms. Reporters were given five minutes with Scott after his speech. Asked whether he believed that Sen. Lindsey Graham’s recent proposal to create a federal ban on abortion would hurt Republican chances in the midterm elections, he indicated that abortion was not a key issue for voters in this election cycle.
“Our chances are really good,” Scott said. “I think we’re going to win the majority in the Senate. The number one issue on the voters’ minds is the economy. The number two issue is inflation. Number three is gas prices. Number four is crime. As long as we keep our message tight and consistent, I think we win without much of a question. The good news is the voters are talking about what we’re talking about.”
Scott sidestepped a question about whether he was considering a presidential run in 2024.
Joining Scott at the event were a number of politicians and candidates with ties to the Lowcountry including State Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-124; State Sen. Tom Davis, R-46 and U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, R-SC01. All expressed their support for Scott.
“I’m here today for Tim Scott’s rally,” Mace said. “He is a great American. He has an extraordinary story – where he came from, where he started and where he is today – showing that leadership on the national stage. It’s an honor to have him support our campaign. He gave us a shout out this morning, and we appreciate all of his support out on the campaign trail.”
While Beaufort County voted solidly Republican in the 2020 election, it was Mace who pointed out that no election should be taken for granted. Given the growth of the county and the influx of voters from out of state, the political makeup of the county could be shifting. She noted that her own election to the House in 2020 was decided by less than 5,000 votes.
Scott has served as South Carolina’s junior senator since 2013 when he was appointed to the seat by then-Governor Nikki Haley following the retirement of Sen. Jim DeMint. He won a special election the following year for the two remaining years of DeMint’s term and then won reelection in 2016. Scott decisively defeated Democratic challenger Thomas Dixon by capturing more than 60% of the votes cast.
In November, Democrat Krystle Matthews will challenge Scott for the Senate seat. Matthews, who currently represents the 117th District in the South Carolina State House is also running to retain her House seat while she seeks election to the U.S. Senate.
Matthews’ campaign, however, hit a serious bump last month. As reported in the Post and Courier, key Democrats in the state, including gubernatorial candidate Joe Cunningham and U.S. House of Representative candidate Annie Andrews, have called for Matthews to drop out of the race after she was recorded making disparaging remarks about white people. To date, Matthews has given no indication that she intends to drop out of the race.
“For us to continue the path that we are on is to continue to let the left lead the country,” Scott said. “I think it’s time for us to turn to the right and go red to the roof.”
Tony Kukulich is a recent transplant to the Lowcountry. A native of Wilmington, Del., he comes to The Island News from the San Francisco Bay Area where he spent seven years as a reporter and photographer for several publications. He can be reached at email@example.com.