Tim Scott Suspends ’24 Campaign, as His Sunny Message Failed to Resonate

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who tried carving out a space in the Republican presidential field with a hopeful message built on his life story — the son of a single mother, he rose from poverty to become the only Black Republican in the Senate — announced on Sunday that he was suspending his campaign.

“I think the voters, who are the most remarkable people on the planet, have been really clear that they’re telling me, ‘Not now, Tim,’” Mr. Scott said on Sunday evening on Trey Gowdy’s program on Fox News. “I don’t think they’re saying, Trey, ‘No.’ But I do think they’re saying, ‘Not now.’”

Mr. Scott said he had no intention of endorsing another candidate in the Republican primary race. “The best way for me to be helpful is to not weigh in,” he said. He also brushed off the idea that he could serve as someone else’s running mate. “Being vice president has never been on my to-do list,” he said.

Mr. Scott’s decision was in many ways unsurprising: He has struggled in polls and with recent fund-raising, and would have had to hit a new threshold of 80,000 donors as well as a higher number in public opinion surveys in order to qualify for the next debate sponsored by the Republican National Committee, which will be held in December.

Mr. Scott conducted the Fox News interview from a television studio in his home, and told his staff on a call after he spoke to Mr. Gowdy, according to a person familiar with the events. A number of staff members learned that the campaign was being suspended from watching television, three people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Scott had canceled events in Iowa over the weekend, with his campaign saying he had the flu. And he began Sunday with a cryptic message on X, formerly known as Twitter, that cited Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

In a mark of how frozen the campaign for the Republican nomination has been for months, with former President Donald J. Trump dominating by double digits in every poll and only bolstered among his voting base by the four criminal indictments he faces, Mr. Scott’s apparent departure on Sunday night caused little stir.

Mr. Scott, 58, the first Black Republican elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction, entered the race in May with a far more hopeful message than the often apocalyptic tenor of some in the Republican field, including Mr. Trump.

But Mr. Scott’s brand of sunny optimism found no traction in the modern G.O.P., where the impulse among the party’s core voters, encouraged by Mr. Trump, is to be combative. He found himself crowded out in the race to become the top Republican alternative to Mr. Trump in Iowa by rivals including Nikki Haley, a fellow South Carolinian and former governor of the state, and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida.

Mr. Scott began his campaign with $22 million in fund-raising, a substantial war chest that put him in a position of financial strength. He spent millions of dollars on television ads bolstering his candidacy, but his poll numbers remained stagnant, and he never produced a breakout moment on the campaign trail.

The super PAC supporting him, fueled by $30 million in donations in 2022 from the Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, announced in mid-October that after seeing no progress for Mr. Scott, it was cutting millions of dollars in television ad reservations it had scheduled for the fall months.

Mr. Scott’s momentum appeared to take a hit after the first presidential primary debate, when he was criticized for seeming reluctant to enter the fray. Mr. Scott made it to the third debate, which had increased polling and donor thresholds, only by the narrowest of margins and largely stuck to familiar talking points.

He was also never particularly interested in attacking Mr. Trump. And the former president wasn’t interested in attacking Mr. Scott either, telling aides that he liked the South Carolina senator and planned to say only good things about him.

One of the more memorable moments in Mr. Scott’s campaign came near the end, at last week’s debate in Miami. The senator, who is unmarried and has long brushed aside curious questions about his love life, appeared arm-in-arm with a woman who was later confirmed to be his girlfriend.

The post-debate revelation drew far more attention than his onstage performance.

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