CHARLESTON, SC — Sen. Tim Scott is quickly moving up the ranks of candidates to become Donald Trump’s running mate, and a Trump ally who has spoken to both men about the issue now says the senator’s hearing is a “real possibility.”
“It’s real,” said this person. “And he’d take the job in a second.”
NBC News spoke with about a half-dozen Republicans about the potential for Trump to tap Scott, RSC, as his vice presidential running mate, most of whom said Scott would be interested in the job but would not try to beat out other trailing candidates. scenes.
Scott’s rise up the list of potential running mates comes as he does confirmed The former president is leading the New Hampshire primary and has become a frequent surrogate, offering full-throated endorsements on the trail and on television that have caught the attention of Trump and his allies.
“We need a president who will unite our country — we need Donald Trump,” Scott said last month before a rally of supporters in Concord, New Hampshire, in support of Trump.
Recently interview With Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, Trump himself mentioned Scott when asked about a potential vice presidential pick.
“I called Tim Scott this week because a lot of people love Tim Scott,” Trump said. “I called him and said: ‘You are a better candidate for me than you are.’
“It could be a lot of people,” he continued with his potential selection. “But it was interesting. I looked at it in the last two weeks. As you know, he supported me, he completely endorsed me, he gave me a wonderful endorsement and he was really strong in that regard, but … I don’t want anyone to draw any conclusions. But this is incredible.”
A person close to the senator noted that Trump and Scott have had a long-standing relationship since Trump was in office, working together on tax cuts, opportunity zones, increased funding for historically black colleges and universities, criminal justice reform and other legislation. goals.
“He’s enjoying his role as a surrogate,” he said, noting that Scott can handle more media on Trump’s behalf than he did during his presidency. “He’s having fun with the process.”
Trump still has a ways to go to win the Republican presidential nomination. But so far, he has won four of the first contests and is poised for another victory on February 24 in South Carolina, the home state of both Scott and former Gov. Nikki Haley. competition.
Trump is already paying attention He took over the Republican National Committee after he became a candidate and the question of whom he could turn to as a candidate gained more attention. The fact that he didn’t have to choose for months adds to the intrigue, as suitors could spend months trying for the job.
Speaking to CNBC on Thursday, Scott said Trump has neither offered him the job nor “showed me anything” about him being his running mate.
“He didn’t get any results, but I can tell you that four more years of working on low interest rates, low crime, low inflation is something I’m really interested in doing,” he said.
A Trump ally who spoke to both men said Scott was seen as a potential ticket to help narrow Democratic margins on both the policy front and with voters of color, particularly black and Hispanic men. Moreover, this person said that the two are “suitable” for each other and that there is no “forced” relationship.
“I don’t think so [Trump] everyone needs a distraction,” he said. “Tim Scott is not a distraction.”
Scott is one of a number of potential candidates, including Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, and Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota — who Trump also supports. name was thrown in that Fox News interview — and Rep. Elise StefanikRN.Y.
“He’s not auditioning, he’s out there helping out,” the person said, adding that one potential downside for Scott is that his name came out too early. “Other people are definitely in ‘pick me’ praise mode.”
“But you can’t be too enthusiastic with Trump. … Modesty bores him,” the person added. “The idea that he needed men and women was never true. It annoys him.”
Scott’s resume contains ingredients that could hurt him in the vetting process at a time when Trump is not only looking for it. long-term commitment, but also continues to falsely insist that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Scott was one of many Republican senators who voted to confirm the 2020 election on January 6, 2021, saying the day before that Congress had “no constitutional means” to “nullify the election.”
In May he This was reported by NBC News In an interview after starting his presidential campaign, he said no when asked if he would try to overturn the election he lost. During the first GOP primary debate in August, Scott said former Vice President Mike Pence (whom Trump was furious with for not agreeing to overturn the 2020 results) did “absolutely” the right thing that day.
Years ago, Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, said Trump’s “moral authority” was “compromised” after he said both sides were to blame for the violence. during In 2017, a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned deadly.
A Trump ally said Trump and Scott “will focus on the 98 things they agreed on.”
Then there’s the idea that it’s Scott not a very strong debaterreinforced by his performance in the first presidential debate last summer. Trump will likely scrutinize the debates as he makes his choice, seeking someone who meshes well with Vice President Kamala Harris during a debate this fall. Meanwhile, Scott represents a safe red state, not a front-runner in this fall’s general election campaign.
A former top Scott campaign official noted that in the early days of his claim, Scott took offense by claiming he was only running to boost his veepstakes chances.
“No chess game was played,” said the official. “If he wasn’t serious about being president, he wouldn’t be putting all his time, effort and resources into it.”
Scott expressed similar sentiments late in his campaign. After his campaign stop on Fox News in November, he told host Trey Gowdy, “Vice president was never on the to-do list for this campaign, and it’s not.”
Two advisers to Trump either declined to comment for this story or did not respond to requests for comment.
A number of Republicans in Scott’s home state expressed excitement at the prospect of a hearing.
Dorchester County GOP Chairman Steven Wright said he felt Scott would make a “phenomenal vice presidential choice,” pointing to his Senate resume and life story of overcoming childhood poverty.
“But I think it’s too early to start wondering,” Wright said. “As we know, President Trump is very unpredictable. And it may choose someone we can predict, or it may choose someone that no one has even thought of.”
But the timing of Scott’s full endorsement of Trump struck a chord with some Haley supporters, who pointed out that she was the one who appointed him to the Senate seat when he was governor. a campaign event in the Palmetto State on SaturdayHaley’s son, Nalin Haley, called Scott “Senator Judas.”
Frustration and frustration mounted after Trump said Scott “needs counseling” at an election night event in New Hampshire.really hate it” because Haley didn’t support him.
“I just love you,” Scott replied.
Rep. Nathan Ballent of South Carolina, a Haley supporter, said he “lost respect” for Scott after that moment and said the senator is now “kissing the ring and hoping.” [he] he gets something from it.”
“How humiliating is that?” Ballent’s moment in New Hampshire said. “I can’t even imagine what her friends said to her after she did that. If Trump somehow wins and somehow names Tim Scott as his vice president, Tim got what he wanted.”
Scott seemed to enjoy Haley’s criticism after her confirmation. In response to reporter Haley’s tweet asking whether Scott “couldn’t sleep at night” after endorsing Trump, Scott replied:only 8 hours.”
Maureen Bulger, a Republican voter and Haley supporter from Bluffton, South Carolina, who spoke to NBC News at a Haley event last week, said she was “appalled” by Scott’s endorsement and said it had to do with potential. was appointed to the position of vice president.
“I think Trump offered to be my vice president, like he did with Chris Christie [in 2016]”said Bulger. “And then he threw him out. After he gets South Carolina, Tim Scott is going to walk away. I’m sure when he comes back and looks at where he went ‘I love you’ on stage, he’s probably pissed. Trump threatened all those guys on stage with him. .
Trump supporters, however, had nothing but love for Scott, and some believe he was nothing more than a deal breaker for the former president’s running mate.
“He’s going to be the guy,” said Trump supporter Ron Clack of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. “Undoubtedly.”