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Tim Scott plans to support Donald Trump

Written by The Anand Market

Updated on:

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina will support Donald J. Trump Friday night at a rally in New Hampshire, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Mr. Scott was traveling to Florida on Friday so he could fly with Mr. Trump to New Hampshire for the rally, the two people said. His support for Mr. Trump is likely to spark further discussion about Mr. Scott as a potential running mate for the former president. He is the highest-ranking elected black Republican in the country.

Mr. Scott only recently came to his decision. After ending his own presidential campaign on November 12, he had said he would not approve “any time soon.” But he came to the conclusion that Mr. Trump was the best candidate to defeat President Biden, according to a person familiar with his thinking.

A spokesman for Mr. Scott declined to comment. A spokesperson for the former president did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During the race, Mr. Trump avoided criticizing Mr. Scott, a sign that he had warmer feelings for the senator, with whom he worked when he was president. In 2020, Mr. Trump had given Mr. Scott one of the most coveted speaking roles in politics, making him a keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention.

Mr. Trump has sought support from Mr. Scott since the senator left the race last year. His support not only strengthens Mr. Trump in New Hampshire, which hosts his primaries on Tuesday, but also in South Carolina, the home state of one of Mr. Trump’s main Republican rivals, Nikki Haley. Team Trump hopes to knock Ms. Haley and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida out of the race with a decisive victory in the South Carolina primary on Feb. 24, avoiding a costly fight for delegates that would otherwise extend into March after Super Tuesday.

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The decision to support Mr. Trump could particularly sting Ms. Haley. As governor of South Carolina, she nominated Mr. Scott to the Senate, announcing him as her choice more than a decade ago, in 2012.

Mr. Scott fielded calls from the three remaining candidates in the race: Mr. Trump, Ms. Haley and Mr. DeSantis. Ms. Haley had called him this week, and mutual friends in South Carolina had also contacted him to lobby on his behalf for approval. Mr. Trump and South Carolina’s other senator, Lindsey Graham, a close ally of Mr. Trump, have exerted constant pressure on him. Mr. DeSantis also called Mr. Scott last year after Mr. Scott left the race, according to the two people briefed on Mr. Scott’s endorsement decision.

The lobbying was a sign of how coveted Mr Scott’s support would be. Although Mr. Scott has struggled to gain traction in the primaries, he remains extremely popular with Republican voters.

Polls last fall by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican firm that has worked with the DeSantis operation, showed Mr. Scott with an approval rating of 78 percent in Caroline from the south and a 67 percent favorability rating in New Hampshire.