CHARLESTON, S.C. Sen. Tim Scott is quickly rising through the ranks of contenders to be Donald Trump's vice presidential nominee, and a Trump ally who has spoken with both men about it now says it's possible the senator be wiretapped.
It's real, this person said. And he'd take the job in a second.
NBC News spoke to about a half-dozen Republicans about the possibility of Trump choosing Scott, R-S.C., as his vice presidential nominee, most of whom said Scott would be interested in the job but n wouldn't try to outdo the other contenders. the scenes.
Scott's rise on the list of potential vice presidential candidates comes as he endorsed the former president ahead of the New Hampshire primary and quickly transformed into a frequent surrogate, offering wholehearted support on the track and on television which was so complete that it attracted attention. the attention of Trump and his allies.
“We need a president who will unite our country, we need Donald Trump,” Scott said in supporting Trump before a rally of supporters in Concord, New Hampshire, last month.
In a recent interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, Trump himself ditched Scott when asked about his potential vice presidential picks.
I called Tim Scott this week, because a lot of people like Tim Scott, Trump said. I called him and said: You are a much better candidate for me than for yourself.
It could be a lot of people, he continued of his potential choice. But it was interesting. I've been watching him over the past two weeks. As you know, he supported me, fully supported me, gave me wonderful support, and he was very strong in that sense, but… I don't want anyone to infer that. But it's incredible.
A person close to the senator noted that Trump and Scott have had a long-standing relationship dating back to Trump's tenure, when they worked together on tax cuts, opportunity zones, increased funding for colleges and universities historically black people, criminal justice reform and other legislative measures. goals.
He enjoys the surrogate role, this person said, noting that Scott may be doing more media now on Trump's behalf than during his presidential campaign. He has fun with this process.
Trump still has a way to go to win the Republican presidential nomination. But so far he's won the first four contests and he's poised for another win on Feb. 24 in South Carolina, the home state of Scott and Nikki Haley, the state's former governor and Trump's only major challenger in the country. race.
Trump has already begun considering taking over leadership of the Republican National Committee once he is nominated, and the question of who he might nominate as his vice presidential nominee has come under increased scrutiny . The fact that he doesn't have to make his choice for months only adds to the intrigue, as candidates could spend months auditioning for the job.
Speaking to CNBC on Thursday, Scott said Trump neither offered him the job nor indicated anything about being his vice presidential nominee.
He didn't deduct anything, but what I can tell you is working for four more years of low interest rates, low crime and low inflation, that's something I'm really interested in, did he declare.
The Trump ally who spoke with both men said Scott was seen as a potential ticket asset both politically and to help narrow Democratic margins with voters of color, particularly black and Hispanic men. Additionally, this person said, the two are compatible with each other and are not in a forced relationship.
I do not think so [Trump] needs someone to be a distraction, this person said. Tim Scotts is not a distraction.
Scott is one of several potential picks, including Ohio Republican Sen. JD Vance, South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, whom Trump also named in that Fox News interview, and Rep. Elise Stefanik , RN.Y.
He's not auditioning, he's helping, this person said, adding that a potential negative for Scott is that his name was announced too early. Other people are definitely in adulation mode.
But we must not be too impatient with Trump. Obsequiousness bores him, the person added. The idea that he needs men and women has never been true. This bothers him.
There are elements on Scott's resume that could harm him in a vetting process at a time when Trump is not only seeking long-standing loyalty, but also continues to falsely insist that 2020 elections were stolen from him. Scott was one of several Republican senators who voted to certify the 2020 election on January 6, 2021, asserting the day before that Congress had no constitutionally viable way to overturn an election.
In May, he told NBC News no when asked in an interview after launching his presidential campaign if he would ever try to overturn an election he lost. During the first GOP primary debate in August, Scott said former Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump criticized for not agreeing to overturn the 2020 results, absolutely did the right thing that day -there.
Years earlier, Scott, the Senate's only black Republican, said Trump's moral authority was compromised after he said both sides were responsible for the violence at the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which turned out to be murderous.
Trump and Scott will focus on the 98 things that bind them and that they agree on, the Trump ally said.
Then there's the idea that Scott isn't a very strong debater, reinforced by his performance in the first debate of the presidential primary last summer. Trump will likely look closely at debate picks when he makes his choice, wanting someone who is a good match for Vice President Kamala Harris if there is a debate this fall. Meanwhile, Scott represents a safely red state, not one that will be at the forefront of this fall's general election campaign.
A former senior Scott campaign official noted that early in his candidacy, Scott took offense to the assertion that he was running only to increase his veepstakes chances.
No chess games were played, the official said. He wouldn't be putting in all this time, effort, and resources if he wasn't serious about becoming president.
Scott also expressed a similar sentiment at the end of his campaign. After suspending his campaign in November on Fox News, he told host Trey Gowdy: “The vice president has never been on my to-do list for this campaign, and there's no is definitely not now.
Two Trump advisers either declined to comment for this story or did not respond to a request for comment.
In Scott's home state, a number of Republicans have expressed excitement that he could be tapped.
Steven Wright, chairman of the Dorchester County GOP, said he thinks Scott would make a phenomenal choice for vice president, pointing to his Senate resume and history of winning on child poverty.
But I think it's premature to start asking questions, Wright said. As we know, President Trump is quite unpredictable. And he may choose someone we can guess, or he may choose someone no one has even thought about.
But the timing of Scott's whole-hearted support of Trump turned off some Haley supporters, who pointed out that she was the one who appointed him to his Senate seat when she was governor. At a campaign event in the Palmetto State on Saturday, Haley's son, Nalin Haley, called Scott a Judas senator.
The annoyance and disappointment grew after Trump said at his election night in New Hampshire that Scott must really hate Haley since he doesn't support her.
I love you, Scott replied.
South Carolina state Rep. Nathan Ballentine, a Haley supporter, said he lost all respect for Scott after that moment, saying the senator was now kissing the ring and hoping that [he] gets something out of it.
How degrading is that? Ballentine spoke about the moment in New Hampshire. I can't even imagine what his friends said to him after he did that. If Trump somehow wins and nominates Tim Scott vice president, well, then Tim got what he wanted.
Scott appears to have appreciated Haley's criticism following her endorsement. In response to a tweet in which a reporter noted that Haley wondered if Scott could sleep at night after supporting Trump, Scott replied: Only 8 hours.
Maureen Bulger, a Republican voter and Haley supporter from Bluffton, South Carolina, who spoke with NBC News at an event in Haley last week, said she was dismayed by Scott's support and suggested it had something to do with the potential to be tapped as vice president.
I think Trump suggested you be my vice president like he did with Chris Christie. [in 2016], Bulger said. And then he kicked him out. Once he reaches South Carolina, Tim Scott will be distant. I'm sure he'll probably cringe when he comes back and looks at where he's going, I love you on stage. Trump emasculated all those guys on stage with him.
Trump supporters, however, had nothing but love for Scott, with some thinking it's almost a given that he will be the former president's running mate.
It will be him, said Ron Clack, a Trump supporter from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Without a doubt.
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