Sen Scott accuses Democrats of using ‘provocative racial history’ to fuel ‘progressive agenda’

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican in the Senate, said progressives are using “provocative racial history” to “create a wedge in this nation” to bring them more power and further left-wing agendas.

Scott, a rising star in the GOP who is increasingly likely to launch a 2024 Republican campaign for the White House, made his comments Wednesday in a pair of speeches in Iowa, the state that kicks off the GOP presidential nominating calendar. 

“Right now, we have politicians who want to say that grievance is our future and not greatness,” Scott said Wednesday night as he gave the keynote address at a Polk County GOP fundraising dinner just outside of Des Moines. “Because they believe that by using the provocative racial history of our nation, but they can create a wedge in this nation.”

Scott argued that those on the left hope racial division “will bring more power and more resources to their progressive agenda.”


Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. speaks during the Republican Party of Polk County Lincoln Dinner, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, in West Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) (AP )

“I stand to tell you, not on my watch,” he vowed, which elicited vigorous applause from the crowd.

Scott — who was raised by a poor, single mother — in an earlier address reiterated his family’s own passage from “cotton to Congress” and said that his story was “living proof” the American dream is real.


“I am here because my family chose faith over anger, responsibility over resentment, and patriotism over pity,” the senator emphasized. And he charged that progressives “are attacking every rung of the ladder that helped me climb.”

Scott, in a speech at Drake University in Des Moines, also argued that he “was the poor African American kid they claim they’re protecting. So, I want the left to hear me clearly: your soft on crime policies are killing us.”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. speaks during a Faith in America Tour event, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. speaks during a Faith in America Tour event, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) (AP)

The senator gave Fox News a preview of his messaging in an exclusive Fox News interview Tuesday night as he arrived in Iowa. “The Democrats and progressives are doing their very best… to attack the very culture of who we are as Americans. They want to change the DNA of what it means to be an American,” Scott said.

The senator’s trip to Iowa, which kicked off his “Faith in America” listening tour, was first reported earlier this month by Fox News. It also included a Wednesday morning stop with popular Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to meet with faith leaders, students and parents at St. Anthony Catholic School in Des Moines.


The visit is the latest signal that Scott appears to be laying the groundwork to launch a presidential campaign. In another sign of his likely 2024 intentions, Scott ran digital ads in Iowa ahead of his visit, paid for by his Senate re-election campaign.

Former President Donald Trump launched his third White House run in mid-November. Former South Carolina governor and former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley last week became the second major Republican to declare their candidacy, an event in Charleston. The GOP presidential nomination field is expected to grow in the weeks and months ahead.

Asked about his own timeline, Scott told Fox News that “for me it’s about distilling the mission of restoring hope and creating opportunities, talking about an optimistic yet conservative message that if it resonates, it will give me a lot of good feedback. So, for me it’s really about the mission more than it is the timeline.”


Scott easily cruised to re-election in November in reliably red South Carolina to what he has said will be his final six-year term in the Senate. And Scott, a ferocious fundraiser, had more than $20 million in his campaign coffers at the beginning of the year, which could be transferred to a presidential campaign. Having a cash-on-hand head start could give Scott an early advantage over some of his potential rivals, or afford him some extra breathing room to make his decision.

Ahead of Scott’s speeches in the Hawkeye State, Iowa Democratic Party chair Rita Hart charged that “nothing Tim Scott says to Iowans today will erase his extreme record: supporting plans to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, banning abortion with no exceptions, and putting special interests ahead of working families.” 

Fox News’ Madison Scarapino contributed to this report

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