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Gavin Jackson: South Carolina Senator Tim Scott was on the campaign trail last week after announcing he was jumping into the 2024 presidential race. With his announcement in North Charleston on May 22. Welcome to a This Week in South Carolina Special Report. I'm Gavin Jackson: in Sioux City, Iowa, where Senator Tim Scott is making his first swing as a declared Republican presidential candidate here in the Hawkeye State. We tagged along with him on several visits.
U.S Senator Tim Scott: I love Iowa. It's been great. It's been nice being back since I guess since 2015. When I first started coming for Senator Grassley got to know the statement about 15 times since then. So, it was fun to come back to a place that's starting to feel more and more like home. So if people are wonderful, friendly, and frankly, the governor of the state has done a fabulous job with what has been my signature issue since I started my opportunity to end up which is focusing on education, that education is the closest thing to magic and to be in a state where the governor celebrates that I think it's fantastic knowing that this school has perhaps doubled in size because of the new student scholarships is such a blessing to the future of this country, the future the state to see say this investing so heavily in their kids so that that's a good thing.
Gavin Jackson: Scott first visited a private Christian school in the Republican stronghold Northwest portion of the state. that's on the banks of the Missouri River, and borders Nebraska as well, South Dakota, Scott met school officials as he continues his push for school choice in a state where Governor Kim Reynolds has signed legislation into law this past year to use taxpayer dollars to fund vouchers for students to attend private schools. Governor Henry McMaster has signed a similar law as well.
Dr. Sarah Boesch: So, I think a nationwide problem right now is teacher shortages, whether you're public or you're private. Can you talk a little bit about your plan for recruitment and retention of teachers?
U.S Senator Tim Scott: Absolutely. So, one of the things that we should do is, like I said, I have to bifurcate the question. Part of it would be on looking at the areas of high need. So your rural communities where it's harder to attract teachers, I think there are lots of things that we can do and should do, can accelerate the path of reducing student loan burdens, not as President Biden would do at this point, which is cancel the debt, but having an incentive based approach, which says that you're going to teach in areas if you're willing to teaching areas where the need is the highest that we should provide for resources. Secondly, see that I'm watching and modeling. There are some really great examples around the country Success Academy in New York City's charter school program that is about I think, 85% or 86%, African American Hispanic kids $30,000 or so is the household income, and what I see happening in those areas that their kids are producing better test results than your majority students in New York City, because they have the resources necessary to make a difference in resource is 50 cents on the dollar in the state. but what you see happening is that they have donors and others who are providing incentives. So, one of the things I thought to myself is that we have a school in Charleston called Meeting Street Academies, that actually pays incentives to teachers for test scores and better results. I would love to have a matrix that we can design to help to create the kind of results we need for the kids and compensate teachers accordingly. So, retention becomes less of an issue, long term, but also think that you provide more student loan forgiveness, and you try to create an apparatus on the federal level that we're incentivizing teacher performance, on the federal level. Most of the decisions on resourcing will come from the state and the local level as it should, but the federal government spends about $70 or $80 billion on K through 12 education and local government spends about $700 billion dollars. So, one of the things I like to do is get a big pair of scissors and start cutting some of the red tape that says, here's what you must do in order to get our resources, even though we provide 10 cents on the dollar. So, the fewer restrictions that you have on high use of dollars, the better off you are. Some of the things that I've heard from superintendents around the country is that the COVID money that went out, it sits on a balance sheet, because all the strings attached to spending the money makes it not worth spending it, because you're obligating yourself to continuing programs that are more costly than the money that you get initially. So, they didn't spend the money. So, I think those are a couple of ways I would try to tackle some of those shortages that we have today.
Gavin Jackson: One issue we're now hearing a lot of Republican candidates talk about on the campaign trail is abortion, and Senator Scott is no different. Though, I did ask him at the event what he thought of the six-week abortion ban bill that the South Carolina legislature passed off to the governor for his signature.
Reporter: Are you okay with the Heartbeat bill being passed...
U.S Senator Tim Scott: No, not really. I mean, I think, the state is trying to protect the culture of life, and that's good news. I think the Heartbeat bill is a step in the direction of that, but...>> Thank you, guys, very much.
Reporter: Thanks, Senator. Thank you.
Gavin Jackson: Senator Scott held his first town hall here in Sioux City at Novelty Machine and Supply Company, and he shared his life story while also taking a few questions from folks that are evaluating a growing field of Republican presidential candidates ahead of the first of the nation caucuses next year,
Guest #1: Since you brought it up with the view. The Boo, the poo...Ms. Joy Behar brought up something you don't know what racism is in America. You don't know what's like being black in America? Are you kidding me?
U.S Senator Tim Scott: She's kidding me.
Guest #1: Yeah. Are you serious? I mean, how do you respond to that? I mean...come on.
U.S Senator Tim Scott: Well, listen. I've tried to be as clear as I can be. Now, I don't even need the stool anymore. You got me fired up here. Let me just say the truth here. I say this with all sincerity. A white lady. Telling a black man, I don't understand what it means to be Black in America. It's not preposterous. It's not ridiculous. It's insane. It just is. (applause) I said...this in 2021, when I responded to President Biden, for the first time in my first major speech to the nation. I said, I have been the - I've been discriminated against. I understand the pain and the challenges that come with discrimination. I don't hide away from that, but at the same time, I refuse to allow the minority of my experiences to color my picture and it's one of the reasons why I said after I said I had been discriminated against. I said, America is not a racist country, because it's not. (applause) But...here is the emerging prejudice I see in America. It's the liberal, elite, black and white that wants to tell me to stay in my place. That's discrimination. You want to talk about prejudice. The future of this country will not be determined by black or white. It will be determined by the quality of our education. Those same liberal elites trap poor kids and failing schools, because they're wedded to big labor unions. They're more interested in keeping those kids trapped in their schools and trapped out of their futures. and they're going to talk about the great opportunity party. Give a brother a break. (various crowd dialogues)
Eileen Sailer: First of all, I'm looking at all the candidates. I'm vetting every single presidential candidate know through Iowa, but I really am looking for a candidate that has some chutzpah. I want to be conservative. I want somebody who can stand up to the Washington, DC mass appeal. It's, I feel that we are you know managerial government. I don't like it. I really would like to see some leadership. I like Tim Scott a lot. I was excited about coming to see him.
Gavin Jackson: He's talking about...change, wanting to see some different things. Does he offer that message? in your opinion? I know you're, I guess you're evaluating everyone right now.
Eileen Sailer: That's right. What I've seen...or heard from Tim Scott so far, and I've seen him at a couple of different events way before this election cycle. But that man is he believes in America, he believes in the American dream. He is well founded in faith, and he knows how to pick himself up by the bootstraps. He wants everybody to do that. I really like his message.
Priscilla Forsythe: I'm not sure. I was a Trump supporter, and I'm not saying I won't support him again, But I'm also kind of thinking of my concern for the next generation to come in who that is, I don't know. I'm just listening to everybody right now.
Gavin Jackson: When you talk about being a Trump supporter, what are some of the issues you've had with the President? Is it because he has a lot of baggage right now? Or are different people are saying different things that are sticking out to you or what are your thoughts?
Priscilla Forsythe: I'm not sure if they'll be elected again, you know, and it's kind of like, I'm tired of the noise. I really liked him. I thought he was an excellent president. I think he did not get a fair shake. You know, I really believe all those things. Did he win? Did he lose? Well, he lost the election, but you know, I mean, I don't get into all of that. I'm looking at let's go forward, and I think that's the problem is that no matter what he does, people are going to try to pull him back. They're going to keep talking about the past and I don't know how we will get forward...but I won't say I'm not voting for him because I don't know yet. (laughs)
Gavin Jackson: While many Iowans are still learning about who the junior senator from South Carolina is. They'll be hearing his name a lot over the coming weeks and months leading up to the August debate. That's thanks in part to a $6 million ad buy on the airwaves here in Iowa and New Hampshire.
U.S Senator Tim Scott: I'm living proof that America Is the land of opportunity. I was raised by a single mother in poverty. She taught me to have stubborn faith, faith in God, faith in ourselves, and faith in America.
Gavin Jackson: While in Iowa, I also spent time talking to Tom Beaumount. He's an Iowa based Associated Press reporter, who's covered several presidential campaigns before and is also closely watching the 2024 race. He shared with me what makes Iowa so unique and important.
Tom Beaumount: The state has changed a lot, actually. This is a state that Obama carried twice in the general election. He won the caucuses in 2008, en route to the presidency, and eight years later, Donald Trump carried Iowa and carried it again in 2020.So it went from an Obama state to a Trump state very quickly.
Gavin Jackson: ...and then what does that signify, I guess, well, how does how does that shift happen? What drove that shift?
Tom Beaumount: Man, that is you're geeking me out here, because a lot of people think that it was like a rise in strength of the Republicans, but it was more a withering of the Democratic base. Democratic base in Iowa used to be rural progressives, urban and suburban liberals, and a really strong union base, down the Mississippi River manufacturing towns from Dubuque down south. They used to build farm implements. Their UAW was huge here, and between the early 2000sand now the manufacturing base has dwindled, and with it has gone to Union base. So, there are no more rural progressives, all of those farms have sold and have become, you know, corporate farms, and so there aren't those like small farm rural progressives anymore, and there are very few labor Democrats. So, it's dwindled. Now you have a state where a Democrat has not been elected statewide. since Tom Harkin won re-election for the last time in 2008.
Gavin Jackson: I asked Tom, what Tim Scott needs to do to win Iowa, and whether he thinks Iowans know who he is.
Tom Beaumount: I don't think Iowans know him at all. But he presents quite differently than the rest of this emerging field. He obviously presents differently than Trump and DeSantis. Senator Scott is really just distinguishing himself by coming across as very optimistic, you know, future forward, you know, we can do this together, tell us his story, his, compelling personal narrative. You know, it's...really upbeat, and what you do hear from Trump and DeSantis more, and to a lesser extent, the rest of the field is kind of, you know, just a pummeling of the liberal left, you know, and that seems to be how Scott is trying to distinguish himself.
Gavin Jackson: Is that what Iowans want to hear? Are they reacting to the jumping on the whole cultural war bandwagon? I mean, it seems like that's the drumbeat, and that's what the polls show.
Tom Beaumount: I don't know. We'll see, because you make an interesting point of what polls show, and there are no good Iowa polls yet. I mean, this is where it starts. This is where the whole thing starts to gel, and it's not going to gel for months. I mean, we don't even have a full-fledged, you know, DeSantis campaign yet. You know, Tim Scott's making his first, you know, his first trip here as a candidate. You know, there's, there's so much that needs to be sorted out first. Mike Pence hasn't said what he's going to do. I mean, the field isn't fully formed yet. So, it's going to take a while for what we see in national polls, to have some sort of context on the ground in Iowa.
Gavin Jackson: You just did some reporting about organizing what it takes to organize into this place like Iowa, because it isn't primaries. It’s caucusing, which is just so different. It requires a lot of face to face, handshaking, a lot of pressing the flesh, organizing to it sounds like, you know, DeSantis is already putting a lot of money behind that. So, like Tim Scott's putting a lot of money on advertising. Do you have to do, I guess, a little bit of both? Are there different taxor ways to approach this and is one better than the other?
Tom Beaumount: They kind of have to go hand in hand. But you know, organizing is always you know, people say you really got to organize to get those people out to those evening meetings in the dead of winter. That's if you have something to catch. That's if you have momentum, a candidate with moment um to catch that momentum. If you if you're...organized to the hilt, and nobody is interested in what you're selling, you know, that's not going to do you any good. The...I come back to the Obama campaign. They were really smart. They built out this huge organization, had crowds, at their events, filtered through all the people that were attending got their information, and then he got hot, and so they had an apparatus to catch his momentum. In 2016, Trump did not have an apparatus to catch what was his momentum. They left a lot of votes on the floor, because they weren't following up on people that were showing up at their events and demonstrating interest, and so they finished second. They're doing it different this time. It's hard to be new twice. So, we'll see, but Tim Scott does not have that problem because he is new now, and he presents differently.
Gavin Jackson: Senator Scott also visited the second early voting state on the presidential nominee encounter here in New Hampshire. He spoke at St. Anselm College, New Hampshire Institute of Politics, before a group of female Republicans about his vision for America,
U.S Senator Tim Scott: I kind of believe that the good Lord in his infinite wisdom allowed me to have a miserable start, so that when I look back, and then I look forward in our nation, I understand the misery uniquely, that comes with broken pieces, and a broken family and a broken heart. Putting those together for our nation is my responsibility, so that I don't waste any pain in my life. It serves as a purpose for my future, and I hope in many ways for the future of this country. He said, you may see the pain of your present, but it may reveal the purpose of your future. So I've taken those and try to craft an opportunity agenda where we talk about the importance of school choice, so that every parent has a choice, every child has a chance to talk about restoring confidence in the American people by giving you your moneyback through tax reform, talk about securing our southern border so that70,000 fewer Americans die from fentanyl overdoses, things that we can do to make America stronger and more resilient, starting at home, but also abroad. We should secure our future through excavating energy here at home and continue to have all of the above strategy on our energy policies. If I was president of the United States, hopefully I will be in just less than two years, I will make my first day signing the XL Keystone pipeline to finish the process that we delayed under President Biden.
Gavin Jackson: I spoke with some of those in the audience about Senator Scott's message and their thoughts on who should be the next president.
Audience Member 1: I find Senator Scott to be very inspirational, and I see him as a person of faith, and I think faith is going to carry us through in these hard times that our country is experiencing right now, and he's a man with strength, and he carries that armor of God on him all the time, and I think we...he's refreshing, we need are freshen look. We need a refreshing phase, somebody that really is sincere, and I feel he's really sincere.
Audience Member 2: I really like a lot his manners. He's such a man. He's a gentleman. You don't see this often, you know. Every candidate, he wants to show he's powerful. He can do change. He is, you know, but I liked his softness, because he's totally different, and I like how he treats women.
Audience Member 3: As far as the field right now. I don't think there's anybody I would totally dismiss. Any candidate that is the Republican nomination for president, I will be voting for. As far as who it's going to be right now. I don't know who I'm leaning towards. I really don't have...you know, you want that...and, you know, Tim Scott's great, but I just heard him so, he’s, my guy. (laughs) So, who I go see tomorrow, might be my guy, you know? So, that's what happens is, you know, you get the emotional thing, but you have got to come down to the facts, the facts matter, not just what you feel about it, you know, and how great they look. I know Tim keeps saying he's not the...best looking guy in the family or whatever, but he's a riot. So, anyway. So, I am looking for someone who believes in the Constitution, believes in God, believes in our country, believes that people should be working for their living and not just taking a handout. You know, I want people that love our country to be in charge of our country, not, you know, giving it away for free.
Gavin Jackson: I also spoke with the New Hampshire Institute of Politics Executive Director, Neil Levesque about what makes New Hampshire politics so unique and what it takes to win the Granite State.
Neil Levesque Well, New Hampshire, you know, there's other states too, that have had that have had, you know, early primaries or caucuses and things, but the reason why New Hampshire is really important is that New Hampshire, really vets candidates. You have to come into the state and meet with voters, take their questions, take their follow up questions, and it's not a state where a big endorsement carries any weight whatsoever, and it's not a state where money buys votes, and tragically, you know, across the country, today, if you...raise a lot of money, that equals the fact that you're going to win that state. Not so in New Hampshire. You have to campaign here, and really what it does is it makes you a better candidate. It produces a better candidate for the parties, because you want, if you're a member of a party, you want to have the strongest candidate to go forward to a general election.
Gavin Jackson: So, have we changed or have candidates just adapted when we look at how Donald Trump has affected races going forward? Specifically, 2024? Are we seeing folks trying to become the next Donald Trump but maybe a lighter version, like a DeSantis? Or, you know, what about a guy like Senator Tim Scott, who’s really trying to play that good guy card and be, you know, uniting and trying to be optimistic? Can you even do something like that in 2024?
Neil Levesque: Absolutely, and I think presidential elections always evolve and change, and so you always see, particularly in general elections, where you go from somebody like Nixon, to Carter, two different types of personalities, and then Carter, who’s wearing a sweater and lowering the heat, to the glitz of the Hollywood star of Ronald Reagan. So, you do have these switches back and forth, and I think that we’ll probably see that again, I think, what people always forget, And... particularly political scientists always try to put people in lanes, but when you ask regular voters who they like, and who they want to vote for. It's really who they like, and a lot of that has to do with raw political talent, which is always overlooked. Who's really good on the stump? Who can make a good communication speech? Who, who's likable, ... and people forget that, particularly political scientists, or pollsters who are looking at this stuff, and so we always forget that, but you take a candidate like a Bill Clinton from a small state, you know, no one's ever heard of him, but he had raw political talent, and that's what really did it for him.
Gavin Jackson: ...and we see that play out in Iowa and New Hampshire, and obviously, South Carolina there. So just with that being said, there, Neil, you know, what's it takes to win a place like New Hampshire versus a place like South Carolina? Kind of give us a little idea about the politics in New Hampshire for folks that don't know New Hampshire politics.
Neil Levesque: Well, I think South Carolina is all about endorsements. So, if you get the Clyburn endorsement, for example, like Biden, did, you'll win South Carolina, that's what they are betting on. There's also more of a religious tone to South Carolina elections, I believe. New Hampshire is one of the most agnostic states in the nation. So, campaigning on a heavily religious sort of background, has not necessarily worked in New Hampshire, It's a different kind of thing than in the south, and places like South Carolina. I think the main thing in New Hampshire is you got to go out, you got to show up. You have got to take the questions. You got to show that you're authentic, but you got to show that you're ready for the job, and that you're going to be fighting for people here in New Hampshire, and so that could be a Bernie Sanders who really was authentic to the voters. They liked him. They thought they he was fighting for them at all times. Or it could be a John McCain type of candidate. Same type of voter will vote foreach one of those people.
Gavin Jackson: ...and just last question, you know, when you look at this race right now, you know, when you look at historic perspective, how do you see this race, the Republican field, kind of fitting with what we saw in 2016 and prior races? I mean, are we on track to see a repeat in a sense, or? I mean, what do you think we've learned from 2016? What we're doing right now in 2024?
Neil Levesque: Well, the problem with comparison, comparing presidential elections is there's really not enough of a pool, and things change so much, but what do we have right now? We really have an incumbent Republican too. I mean, he's the former president. So, he's sort of like an incumbent, and with a strange phenomena is that people that worked for him or served with him on the ticket, are either in the race or going to be on the race. That is a strange situation. It's like the Team of Rivals all get together now, and they're all rivaling again. So that is a strange thing, because when they say, well, you know, we signed a bill on this. Well, who are they talking about, the person on this part of the debate stage or the person on this one? So, it's a strange situation, for sure. It would be interesting to see who can sort of overcome that incumbency that Trump has with the party. That, I think is the most difficult challenge, and I haven't seen that anyone really has -I'll boil this down to chicken tenders, but no one has the secret sauce, yet to figure that out, and what we've seen in the polling isa seesaw effect with like DeSantis, where he's been slowly dropping, and Trump's been slowly growing up, and really, some of these other candidates haven't really taken off yet. There is a variable of time though.
Gavin Jackson: The road to the White House in 2024 runs right through Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and we'll be covering our two homegrown candidates as they hit the trail and the ever-growing Republican presidential candidate field as they visit South Carolina. You can stay up to date by following the South Carolina Lede podcast that I host on Tuesdays and Saturdays on South County Public radio.org or wherever you find podcasts. For South Carolina ETV. I'm Gavin Jackson: in Manchester, New Hampshire. Be well, South Carolina.