South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott Abruptly Ends 2024 Presidential Bid

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott Abruptly Ends 2024 Presidential Bid – Tim Scott, the Republican presidential candidate, unexpectedly revealed his withdrawal from the 2024 race, catching both donors and campaign staff off guard, a mere two months before Iowa’s GOP caucuses. The South Carolina senator, who initially entered the race with optimism in May, made the surprising announcement on “Sunday Night in America” on Fox News alongside Trey Gowdy, one of his close friends. 

The news was so unforeseen that some campaign staff reportedly learned about Scott’s decision by watching the show. “I love America more today than I did on May 22,” Scott said Sunday. “But when I go back to Iowa, it will not be as a presidential candidate. I am suspending my campaign. 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.’”

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Scott’s imminent exit coincides with the broader challenges faced by him and other GOP candidates in a race overshadowed by the influence of former President Donald Trump. Despite facing four criminal indictments and numerous legal hurdles, Trump maintains a significant lead in polls over his competitors. This has led many within the party to believe that the race is essentially concluded, unless there is a remarkable turn of events.

Despite substantial financial support from prominent donors, Scott struggled to make an impact in the polls. His attempts to maintain a positive campaign were often overshadowed by rival candidates, especially during debates where he seemed to fade into the background. It remained uncertain if Scott would meet the criteria for the upcoming fourth debate, which demanded higher polling numbers and increased donor support.

Following the end of October, Scott becomes the second major candidate to exit the race, with former Vice President Mike Pence having suspended his campaign two weeks earlier, citing that “This is not my time.” Pence, however, faced poorer polling and a more precarious financial situation compared to Scott. Scott has announced that he won’t immediately endorse any of his remaining Republican rivals.

“The voters are really smart,” Scott said. “The best way for me to be helpful is to not weigh in on who they should endorse.” He also appeared to rule out serving as vice president, saying the No. 2 slot “has never been on my to-do list for this campaign, and it’s certainly not there now.”  With Scott’s exit, Nikki Haley, the first United Nations ambassador under Trump and former South Carolina governor, stands as the sole candidate from South Carolina in the race.

During her tenure as governor, Haley appointed Scott, who was in his second U.S. House term at the time, to the Senate in 2012. The fact that both were competing in the 2024 race created discomfort for donors and voters who had supported them over the years. This dynamic led to tense moments on stage during the initial three GOP debates, where the longtime allies, who had also shared political consultants, exchanged sharp remarks. 

Following Scott’s unexpected departure, some of his donors expressed their intention to shift their support to Haley in the primary. In a post on X on Sunday night, Haley called Scott “a good man of faith and an inspiration to so many,” adding that the GOP primary “was made better by his participation in it.” Scott’s team was so surprised by his exit that just 13 minutes before he announced his departure, his campaign sent out an email soliciting supporters for donations to further Scott’s “strong leadership and optimistic, positive vision to lead our country forward.”

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Saying that “EVERYTHING is on the line” to win the White House, the email went on offering readers “ONE LAST CHANCE to donate this weekend and help Tim reach his campaign goal.” Campaign staff expressed intense frustration to the AP after the candidate recently relocated both personnel and funds from New Hampshire to Iowa, aiming to bolster his position in the leadoff caucus.

A senior staffer conveyed the experience as exceedingly frustrating, highlighting the team’s round-the-clock efforts to accommodate the shift, only to have it completely reversed. Similar to the campaign worker who learned about Scott’s departure through television, this individual, not authorized to discuss internal deliberations publicly, spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Scott’s announcement surprised and saddened many donors, although they commended him for stepping aside to allow Republicans to unite behind a Trump alternative. Eric Levine, a New York-based donor involved in fundraising for Scott, expressed being completely caught off guard. “He stepped aside with dignity. He is a true patriot. I could not have been prouder to have supported him,” said Levine, a vocal Trump critic. He said he would now be supporting Haley.

“She is our last best hope to defeat Donald Trump and then take back the White House,” Levine said. Chad Walldorf, a South Carolina entrepreneur and a dedicated supporter and donor to Scott for a long time, believed that Scott’s choice was in the Republican Party’s best interest. “I’ve always thought the field needs to winnow quickly so we can get behind a good alternative to Trump, so I greatly respect Tim for unselfishly stepping aside rather than waiting until too late,” said Walldorf, who added he’s now backing Haley.

Mikee Johnson, a South Carolina entrepreneur and Scott donor who held the position of national finance co-chairman, informed the AP that he was aware of Scott’s decision to suspend his campaign before the televised announcement. “He is honorable, knows his supporters were prepared to support him for the duration, and was not going to ask that of his friends and supporters,” said Johnson. “He is energized and ready for the next phase. I told him I did not have a single regret.”

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Many of Scott’s former 2024 rivals issued statements Sunday night wishing him well. On social media, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis commended him as a “strong conservative with bold ideas about how to get our country back on track,” adding, “I respect his courage to run this campaign and thank him for his service to America and the U.S. Senate.” Pence called Scott “a man of faith and integrity who brought his optimistic vision and inspiring personal story to people all across this country.

There was no immediate response from Trump’s campaign to the news of Scott’s departure. Trump has been cautious in avoiding criticism of the senator, leading some within his circle to view Scott as a potential choice for the vice presidential role. The former president and his team welcomed a diverse field of rivals, anticipating that it would fragment the anti-Trump vote and prevent a clear frontrunner from emerging. Scott’s next steps remain uncertain. He has mentioned that his 2022 Senate reelection would be his last and has occasionally been considered as a potential candidate for South Carolina governor in 2026.

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