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Tim Scott hits campaign trail in Iowa

The White House hopeful focuses on the economy

Tim Scott during a town hall meeting on May 24 in Sioux City, Iowa Associated Press/Photo by Charlie Neibergall

Tim Scott hits campaign trail in Iowa

Iowan Kurtis Kull says he is not usually politically active and doesn’t normally attend campaign events. But when he heard that U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina was holding a town hall at a warehouse in Sioux City—Kull’s hometown—he threw on a checkered button-down, hopped in his Chevy, and brought a friend.

Kull stood close to the stage, surrounded by a crowd of about 200 people. He watched as campaign aides readied for Scott’s appearance.

“I’ve been following Scott for a year,” Kull said. “I respect his faith and bringing that into politics. I like his small-town roots. I just hope to hear what he plans to do in his run for president.”

Scott has canvassed Iowa and other early-voting states on a “Faith in America” listening tour for the past several months. Born in North Charleston, S.C., and raised by a single mother, Scott says he became a born-again believer at age 18. Even before filing to run for president, he made Christianity a topic in any political appearance.

At his first town hall appearance since announcing his campaign for the White House on Monday, Scott delivered a faith-based message of optimism to his warehouse audience and to the nation’s Republican Party at large.

Scott joins a crowded field, which includes some familiar faces. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who announced her presidential campaign in February, appointed him to fill a vacant Senate seat in 2012. He was the first black senator from the state, and the first black lawmaker to win a statewide election in 2014 since Reconstruction.

At the moment, Scott’s campaign is less than a week old. He is not as well-known as candidates like former President Donald Trump or Florida Gov. Ron Desantis. According to polls aggregated by FiveThirtyEight, about 1.5 percent of potential primary voters would pick Scott. That’s less than half the support for Vivek Ramaswamy, a relatively unknown businessman-turned-politician.

At the town hall, Scott answered audience questions on policy subjects ranging from renewable energy to U.S. relations with China and Ukraine. He said he supports strengthening U.S. businesses, building a wall at the southern border, and opening the Keystone XL pipeline.

Scott said he is pro-life but did not specify what type of abortion legislation he would endorse.

In Sioux City, John Olson, the owner of the WestRock warehouse where the event took place, said he was thrilled with the chance to host Scott’s town hall meeting. As a business owner, Olson paid close attention to what Scott said about China and its economic competition with the United States. Offshoring and supply chain access, Olson said, is a problem even in Iowa.

“The supply and demand issue for us, selling pieces and parts and components. When you’re at their mercy, you’re in a very awkward position,” Olson said. “We need to be less dependent on China.”

Olson said he had not yet decided how he will vote in the Republican primary. He plans to listen to a few more candidates.

Kull isn’t a decided voter either, but he was glad he came to Scott’s event. He doesn’t remember where he heard about Scott in the first place—maybe it was a Facebook post. But he’s listening now. He likes what he hears about Scott’s plan for the economy.

“I wasn’t really politically active until I lost my job,” Kull said. “I liked what he said about energy. I drive a truck. That’s it right there—$3.11 a gallon. And it’s tough to buy a used car right now; used cars are bankrupting the middle class. I want to see him get the economy back where it was.”

Leo Briceno

Leo is a WORLD politics reporter based in Washington, D.C. He’s a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and has a degree in political journalism from Patrick Henry College.


Mary Harrison

Mary Harrison is a student at World Journalism Institute.

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