THE Republican Party has a new star who is being touted as potentially its first black president.
im Scott, the only black Republican senator out of 50, ignited speculation about a White House run when he gave the official response to Joe Biden’s speech to Congress on Wednesday.
“The response upstaged the president,” said Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives. “People are going to start talking that Tim Scott should be running for president. Could you imagine him on the debate stage versus Joe Biden? It’s not even close.”
Mr Scott’s life has been radically different from those of his Republican Senate colleagues. He has been pulled over by police 18 times since 2000 for, as he puts it, “driving while black”.
Despite that, in his address to America, Mr Scott looked into a camera and declared: “Hear me clearly. America is not a racist country.” The Wall Street Journal described it as an “electrifying” moment.
Mr Scott (55) went on to accuse Democrats of weaponising race issues. He said: “Race is not a political weapon to settle every issue the way one side wants.”
Mr Scott’s speeches are characterised by messages of optimism. As an example he describes how, as a child, he would watch his grandfather reading the newspaper daily at the kitchen table. Only later did he discover his grandfather was actually illiterate. The old man had been forced to leave school aged eight to work in the cotton fields. Holding the newspaper was just an attempt to set an example to his grandson.
“My grandfather, in his 94 years, saw his family go from cotton to Congress in one lifetime,” Mr Scott told America. “So I am more than hopeful.”
Mr Scott grew up the son of a single mother who worked 16 hours a day as a nursing assistant in the city of North Charleston, South Carolina. He told America that as a teenager he became “disillusioned and angry” – until he met a mentor called John Moniz.
Mr Scott’s press secretary later explained that the future senator had been working at a cinema when he met Mr Moniz, a manager at the chicken fast food outlet next door. Mr Moniz gave him free Chick-fil-A sandwiches when he couldn’t afford them, and they had long talks, during which Mr Scott absorbed “biblical principles and conservative values”.
After he turned his life around, Mr Scott secured a place at Charleston Southern University and graduated in political science, going on to start an insurance business.
In 1995, aged 30, he won a seat on the county council, the first black Republican elected to any office in South Carolina since the 19th century.
In 2010 Mr Scott won election to the US House of Representatives and three years later became a senator.
Over the past five years he has been a loyal supporter of Donald Trump, rarely criticising the former president, and praising low unemployment figures for black Americans.
In the wake of the death of George Floyd a year ago Mr Scott is leading Republican efforts to find a compromise with Democrats on sweeping police reforms.
In his televised response to Mr Biden, Mr Scott also described how he had in the past been called “Uncle Tom and the N-word” by liberals.
Following his speech “Uncle Tim” began trending on Twitter.
Mr Scott said that had “saddened” him. He told Fox News: “The left has lost their mind. What the left is doing is fighting bigotry with bigotry.” (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2021)
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