NORTH CHARLESTON, SC — Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the US Senate, announced here in his hometown Monday that he is running for president.

“Joe Biden and the radical left are attacking every rung of the ladder that helped me climb,” Scott said at his alma mater Charleston Southern University. «And that is why I am announcing today that I am running for President of the United States of America.»

Speaking to a crowd his campaign estimated at nearly 2,000, Scott described the campaign as a time to choose between «victimization or victory» and «grievance or grandeur.» He presented himself as the candidate «most feared by the far left.»

“I interrupt his narrative,” he said. “I threaten control of him. The truth of my life destroys his lies!»

Scott’s offer has been months in the making, having teased his announcement in recent weeks, first announcing an exploratory committee in April and then officially submitting paperwork Friday to execute. He joins a rapidly expanding field of contenders seeking to topple former President Donald Trump, the current Republican front-runner who holds a commanding lead in Republican primary polls.

Scott was first appointed to the South Carolina Senate in 2012, by the then-Governor. Nikki Haley, now a presidential rival, to replace retired Sen. Jim DeMint. Scott later won elections to fill the remainder of his term in 2014 and won full terms in 2016 and again last year. Scott’s political career began on the Charleston County Council in the mid-1990s before serving in the State House and the United States House of Representatives.

With Scott and Haley, there are now two high-profile politicians from South Carolina in the Republican race. After her governorship, Haley served in the Trump administration as the United States ambassador to the United Nations. South Carolina’s early primary has long been considered one of the most important on the presidential nominating calendar.

In his speech Monday, Scott vowed to bolster the US military, complete a wall along the southern border, «freeze» drug cartel assets and «let the world’s largest military fight these terrorists, because that’s exactly what they are.

He also talked about his goals to boost domestic manufacturing, increase employment and revamp education.

“I will be the president that increases research and development, reclaims supply chains and revitalizes our manufacturing base with Opportunity Zones 2.0 and a whole Made In America agenda,” Scott said.

During a campaign call with reporters last week, Scott’s top officials detailed their theory of the case about why their candidate can win, promoting him as uniquely qualified for the job and a messenger who can win over independents and Democrats without deviate from conservative politics. positions. Scott’s fundraising ability will also give him an advantage, these officials said.

Scott will not deviate from the hot cultural issues during the primary, but will instead seek to run a more positive campaign that highlights the grievances and victimhood promoted in both parties, senior campaign officials said.

Tim Scott announcing his candidacy for President of the United States in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday. Mic Smith/AP

While voters shouldn’t expect Scott to walk out the door attacking Trump, Scott has already spoken of the need for the party to nominate someone who can defeat the Democrats next fall, an implicit opportunity against Trump that some of his rivals have already done.

Closing his remarks Monday, Scott said: «We need a president who will win over not just our friends and our base.»

«We have to have compassion for people who don’t agree with us,» he added.

A NBC News poll conducted in mid-April found Scott tied with Haley at 3%, behind Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence.

Former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam co-chairs Scott’s campaign, and has been bolstered by endorsements from Republican Sens. Mike Rounds and John Thune, both from South Dakota. But while many of his fellow Republicans in the Senate feel well toward Scott, most were unwilling to officially endorse his campaign in talks with NBC News.

Scott, whose voting record ranks Among the party’s most conservative senators, he has traveled to early voting states in recent months, traversing Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina as part of a «listening tour» as his campaign began to catch on. view. In mid-April, Scott toured all three states meet with voters, key activists and donors.

During a February event in Charleston, Scott detailed his personal story of overcoming childhood poverty and offered hints at the tenets of a potential presidential agenda: promoting opportunity zones, conservative police reform, reining in federal spending and enacting election policies. of schools.

“There is a way that we can unify this country around the basic principles that drive us forward, but we have to get past the lie that this is the worst time in American history, only if American history States started today,” Scott said.

At one point, Scott suggested that conservatives are under siege and increasingly subject to discrimination. His comments drew loud applause.

“Listen, I understand how it feels to be treated like a second-class citizen because of the color of my skin,” Scott said. «I refuse to be considered a second-class citizen because of the color of my party.»

Scott is one of the few top-tier challengers to Trump who owes part of his political success neither to a job in the Trump administration nor to an endorsement that helped him through a disputed primary.

Posting on your Truth Social platform On Monday, Trump wished Scott «good luck» in his attempt and took the opportunity to punch DeSantis.

«He’s loading up fast with a lot of people, and Tim is a big step up from Ron DeSanctimonious, who is totally ineligible,» Trump added. «I finished Opportunity Zones with Tim, a great deal that has been very successful. Good luck Tim!»

The South Carolina senator also enters the presidential race with more than $20 million in cash on hand, giving him an advantage over many of his rivals. Scott, who will travel to Iowa and New Hampshire after its launch on Monday, has already placed a $6 million television and radio ad buy that he will begin in those states on Wednesday.

Following his announcement, Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison criticized Scott for wanting to govern from the far right «like a proud member of the Tea Party,» criticizing him for supporting «national abortion bans… advocating plans to end with Medicare and Social Security. as we know them» and for his work on Trump-era tax cuts.

“There is no question that the special interests are celebrating as Tim Scott throws his hat in the 2024 race for the MAGA base,” he said.

Voters here were encouraged by Scott’s candidacy, but had doubts about whether he could really pull off a victory over the former president.

Helen Walker, a Charleston resident who said she has known Scott for years and supports him, said the senator «has a great history» and would be «good for our country» but «I really don’t know if this is his time.» . .»

Linda Corbett, a supporter of Scott from Mt. Pleasant, was not deterred by Scott entering the race with a significant polling deficit to Trump.

«Everything is going to shake,» he said. «The cream is going to rise to the top. That’s my philosophy.»

Kenneth Canty, a Charleston supporter who said he has known the senator for years, said Scott’s ability to «relate to people» across a broad spectrum will be what will help get his campaign off the ground.

«You have people running who are completely, on both sides, complete strangers,» he said, adding that Scott’s consistency and positivity will boost his candidacy.

«Don’t sink to anyone’s level,» he added. «And let your record speak for itself.»

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