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Do Iowa Republicans think Tim Scott’s the guy to run in 2024? He’s here to find out
DES MOINES — Standing behind a mural of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” painted on the wall of a library at St. Anthony Catholic School, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott spoke to reporters Wednesday about restoring hope and creating opportunities, including giving more options to parents and increasing the quality of education.
The South Carolina senator and prospective 2024 Republican presidential candidate toured the school alongside Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and met with parents as part of his “Faith In America” listening tour.
Scott also spoke at Drake University and was schedule to address an annual Polk County Republican fundraiser Wednesday night.
“Conservatism is my personal proof there is no ceiling in life. I can go as high as my character, my education and my perseverance will take me. I bear witness to that,” Scott was expected to say at the event, according to excerpts shared with reporters. “So, for those of you on the left, you can call me a prop, you can call me a token, you can call me the N-word, you can question my blackness, you can even call me ‘Uncle Tim.’ Just understand: Your words are no match for my evidence. … The truth of my life disproves your lies.”
He and Reynolds visited a kindergarten Spanish immersion classroom and spoke with eighth-graders.
Scott recalled speaking with a single mother of four with students enrolled at the school, and mentioned his own upbringing.
“I was blessed to be raised from a strong, powerful single mom and the best thing I can do is make sure the single moms of today have the best and brightest future for their kids and for themselves,” Scott told reporters. “And that’s why I started the Faith in America tour. Too often, our country seems to be polarized by Black and white, or red and blue. The truth is that we are one American family, and the more we focus on that unity we have, the better off the future of the nation.”
He applauded Reynolds for her leadership in passing a private school funding bill last month that creates state-funded scholarships that Iowa families could use to send their children to private schools. The nonpartisan Legislative Service Agency estimates the program, when fully phased in, will cost $345 million a year.
“Seeing the power of school choice, knowing that these kids have an unlimited future to the extent that we can capsulize that and share it and spread it, it’s good news for the country,” Scott said.
Opponents of the law say it will siphon money out of public schools to fund private institutions that aren’t subject to the same oversight as public schools and devotes tax money to schools that could turn away students based on disabilities or personal values.
Reynolds reiterated her point Wednesday that the program is not at odds with public schools.
“It really will make education overall elevated,” she told reporters. “And I’ve said a hundred thousand times, this is not a zero-sum game. We want our public schools and our private schools to do well. But most importantly, we want parents — all parents, not just those that can afford it — to have the opportunity to decide what that environment looks like.”
Scott has been a recurring presence in Iowa over the last two years, including campaigning for Republican candidates ahead of the November 2022 midterm election. He deflected questions this fall about his future plans, stating the only office he planned to run for was president of his homeowners association.
Asked Wednesday if he’s changed his answer, Scott said: “Well, the homeowners association, they’ve already said, ‘no.’”
“I’m working on that part of the answer,” he said, which involves gathering feedback from Iowans.
“As I hear more from the constituents here in Iowa and around the country, it will give me more information on what to do next,” Scott said. He did not provide a timeline on making a decision.
Asked what advice she had to share with Scott, Reynolds — who has said she intends to remain neutral and not endorse ahead of Iowa Republican’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses in 2024 — said: “Come to Iowa. Come often.”
Scott's visit comes a day after fellow South Carolinian and newly announced Republican presidential candidate and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley stopped in Marion for a campaign event in the early GOP nominating state.
Scott did not respond to a reporter’s question as he left the library about his reaction to Haley’s campaign.
Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart, in a statement, criticized Scott for "putting special interests ahead of working families“ as an ”architect“ of the 2017 GOP-passed tax cuts, which made several significant changes to the individual income tax.
Hart, too, criticized Scott’s record supporting policies to limit abortions and that could jeopardize Medicare and Social Security, and calling to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“Nothing Tim Scott says to Iowans today will erase his extreme record,” Hart said.
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