Scott rolls out dozens of South Carolina lawmakers and local leaders endorsing his presidential bid
Sen. Tim Scott is rolling out endorsements from more than 140 current and former elected officials from his home state of South Carolina, aiming to make a show of force in the first-in-the-South presidential primary state.
The backing comes as Scott and other presidential contenders aim to carry on with their campaigns as much of the political world parses the indictment of GOP front-runner Donald Trump on dozens of federal charges.
The list of supporters, shared with The Associated Press ahead of an official announcement on Monday, includes state Sen. Shane Massey, the current Republican leader of South Carolina's Senate, who called Scott "the authentic conservative leader we need in the White House right now."
Daniel Rickenmann, elected in 2021 as the first Republican-aligned mayor of South Carolina's capital city of Columbia in decades, lauded Scott's career, which he said had been spent "focusing on people back home and supporting local government to solve real problems."
Scott also lists the official endorsement of former U.S. Rep. Henry Brown, whose 1st District congressional seat Scott won twice before he was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2011 by then-Gov. Nikki Haley — now among Scott's rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
The list also includes 28 other current state lawmakers, including Rep. Bruce Bannister, chairman of the powerful state House Ways and Means Committee, as well as former lawmakers including longtime House Speaker Bobby Harrell, 16 mayors of cities and towns across the state and dozens of county-level officials.
On Monday, Bannister called Scott "a guy who shares our traditional, conservative values" and called Scott's emphasis on faith "why South Carolina needs Tim Scott in Washington, D.C., and that's why America needs Tim Scott to be the next president of the United States."
Scott said he was "honored to receive the endorsements of former colleagues and friends." He previously was endorsed by several Senate colleagues, including John Thune and Mike Rounds, both of South Dakota. Thune spoke at Scott's launch event last month in North Charleston.
The South Carolina endorsements of Scott come as Republicans aim to navigate the campaign amid Trump's unprecedented indictment on dozens of federal charges related to his handling of classified documents. Slated to appear in federal court in Miami on Tuesday, Trump spent the weekend blasting the case against him as "ridiculous" and "baseless" during appearances at GOP conventions in Georgia and North Carolina.
Scott, who campaigns later this week in Iowa, is among the 2024 Republican hopefuls who have joined Trump in criticizing the case against him. Along with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Scott has decried the "weaponization" of the Department of Justice in making its allegations against the former president.
Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy has pledged to pardon Trump if he's elected. Ramaswamy said the federal case was part of "an affront to every citizen" and called it "hypocritical for the DOJ to selectively prosecute Trump but not" President Joe Biden over his own classified documents case.
Haley — who served as Trump's ambassador to the United Nations and is now vying against him for the GOP nomination — said on Fox News Channel on Monday that "two things can be be true a the same time." She echoed many Republicans' arguments that "the DOJ and FBI have lost all credibility with the American people," but added that "if this indictment is true, if what it says is actually the case, President Trump was incredibly reckless with our national security."
Before the federal allegations against Trump were detailed, Haley decried the situation as a case of "vendetta politics."
Asked on Monday if he would pardon Trump if elected, Scott said he was "not going to get into hypotheticals" but said the notion was "a very important concept." Scott also said Biden was operating on a "double standard" that he said was "both un-American and unacceptable" and pledged to "restore confidence and integrity in the Department of Justice."
But Scott called the case against Trump "a serious case, with serious allegations," adding that, "in America, you're still innocent until proven guilty."
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the federal indictment marked "a sad day for our country" and "reaffirms the need for Donald Trump to respect the office and end his campaign."
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.