Presidential Hopeful Tim Scott’s Strength in Early Voting States Puts Target on His Back

presidential hopeful tim scotts strength in early voting states puts target on his back
AP Photo/Mic Smith

Republican presidential hopefuls are setting their crosshairs on Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) as polls show him competitive for second place in early-voting states. 

Politico reported Monday, “Operatives in multiple campaigns… are beefing up their oppo files on the senator, and some briefed Playbook in recent days about the likely lines of attack.” 

In particular, the outlet pointed to Super PACs tied to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), whose campaign laid off dozens of staffers Tuesday amid a months-long slide, and former Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC), who seeks to break away from the rest of the pack.

Mark Harris, the lead strategist for Haley’s Stand for America PAC, in a memo last week, ripped his “wasteful spending approach” as “not sustainable.”

What is more, former Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) sharpened the blade on Scott Monday night, telling Fox News that he and others in the race “are afraid to tell the truth about Donald Trump.” 

Rivals seek to hit Scott in three key areas, per Politico, including foreign policy, criminal justice reform, and decades-old comments about the Republican Party being a “racist organization.” Scott’s campaign vehemently ripped the “oppo.” 

“This bottom-feeding oppo is so weak and dishonest that even Tim Scott’s political opponents won’t put their names on it,” Nate Brand, the communications director for the Scott campaign, told Politico. “Clearly, those seeking to slow Tim’s momentum are seeing the same polling we are.”

While a medley of recent national polls shows Scott between two and five percent, good enough for positions ranging from third place to sixth, he has a stronger foothold in early-voting states than many of the candidates in the field.

An American Greatness/National Research Inc. poll that was published Tuesday shows Scott surging to third place with eight percent. DeSantis slides to just 15 percent of backing in that poll.

Last week, a University of New Hampshire poll showed Scott at eight percent in third place behind DeSantis and Trump in New Hampshire, gaining six points since April. In that time, DeSantis only saw a 1-point increase up to 23 percent, while Haley climbed just two points to five percent. 

In South Carolina, the developing contours of the race make for high-stakes primary drama. Scott serves as its junior senator, while Haley governed the Palmetto State before becoming U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration. In fact, she first appointed Scott to the U.S. Senate more than a decade ago. 

A Fox Business poll released on Sunday indicated that Trump holds a near majority in South Carolina with 48 percent, while Haley unseated DeSantis from second place for the first time in a national or state poll with 14 percent of support. DeSantis landed at 13 percent, with Scott on his heels at 10 percent. 

“Even though it’s still early, Trump is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in this race,” GOP pollster Daron Shaw, who conducted the poll with Democrat pollster Chris Anderson, told Fox News. “The initial challenge is to see who can become the non-Trump candidate, and in South Carolina that’s currently a three-way race among DeSantis, Haley, and Scott.”

For months, DeSantis comfortably polled in second place and had his sights set on the frontrunner, but his substantial slide has him now polling much closer to the rest of the pack in many cases, and it is likely harder to ignore the rivals. Haley’s campaign sees him as vulnerable, according to her PAC’s memo. 

“He doesn’t have the character or ability to take on Donald Trump in this primary,” Harris wrote. “And soon, he may not have the means. With the layoff of a dozen staffers only a few short weeks into the race, it’s clear the wheels are coming off the DeSantis train.”

Potentially further causing worry about Scott in the DeSantis camp, wealthy donor Andy Sabin has abandoned the DeSantis campaign to rally behind Scott, the New York Times reported over the weekend. He hopes his peers follow suit. 

“They’re disenchanted with Trump and DeSantis,” he said. “And the others, I’ve seen very little momentum.”

Authored by Nick Gilbertson via Breitbart July 25th 2023