Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) endorsed former president Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination Friday night in New Hampshire, throwing his support to his former rival in the race.
The decision by Scott, who suspended his presidential bid in November, comes as Nikki Haley, a fellow South Carolina Republican, is mounting a strong challenge to Trump in New Hampshire’s first-in-the nation primary after a third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.
Speaking in Concord, Trump brought Scott onto the stage and noted: “I’m running against somebody from his state,” a reference to Haley.
As Scott spoke to the crowd, he made no mention of Haley.
“We need a president like Donald Trump,” Scott said. “We need a president who understands the American people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We need a president our foreign adversaries are afraid of and our allies respect.”
Scott’s endorsement of Trump is certain to fuel speculation about a vice-presidential slot on Trump’s ticket. After Scott left the race, Haley and Trump courted Scott for his endorsement, Axios reported.
Scott ended his presidential bid after struggling to gain ground in public polling with an uplifting message that stood out from others in the field, including Trump. Scott’s plans to endorse Trump were first reported by the New York Times.
Scott had put his Christian faith and upbeat message at the center of his campaign, striking a notable contrast to Trump, whose campaign has increasingly focused on revenge, echoing dictators and raising the specter of “bedlam” and violence.
Haley and Scott have long known one another. In December 2012, Haley, then South Carolina’s governor, appointed Scott, then a congressman, to finish the senate term of Jim DeMint, who left to head up the conservative Heritage Foundation.
“I am strongly convinced that the entire state understands that this is the right U.S. senator for our state and our country,” Haley said at the time.
But as the 2024 Republican primary took shape, Republicans in South Carolina girded themselves for their two home state lawmakers to eventually clash. By the time the candidates debated in Simi Valley, Calif., in September, they did.
“Bring it, Tim,” Haley said after Scott threatened to attack her record. After Scott said Haley sought to raise the gas tax in South Carolina, Haley took a dig at Scott and the U.S. Senate being ineffective. “Twelve years, where have you been? Where have you been, Tim?”
Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.