With Congress on recess, Republican U.S. Sen. Tim Scott is heading to the state where the seeds of presidential campaigns are known to sprout.
Scott on Saturday will be in Iowa speaking to the conservative Family Leader's Leadership Summit, held in Ames.
It is Scott's first visit to what historically is the nation's lead-off presidential selection state, by caucus.
It also makes Scott an Iowa pioneer, as none of the state's other marquee political names have done anything of significance there during their careers, including Gov. Nikki Haley and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, their staffs said.
Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford did visit Iowa once while he was South Carolina's governor but did not make a major address.
"While he was governor, the National Governors Association held one of their summer meetings in Iowa and he attended that one, just as he attended the other summer meetings held elsewhere during his eight years" in office, spokeswoman Martha Morris said.
Scott was invited to the summit because of his conservative credentials and life story, which includes growing up in a single-parent household in North Charleston before rising to become a national conservative figure as the Senate's only black Republican.
"We're anxious to see what that story is," said David Barnett, communications director for the group.
Scott will have about 30 minutes of speech time to address the group. More than 1,300 people are expected to attend. Others on the bill include various leading Republican presidential contenders for 2016, among them: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; Texas Gov. Rick Perry; and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Huckabee and Santorum won the past two Iowa Caucuses.
Scott said Thursday he has no desire to run for the White House, despite Iowa's reputation. "Not even in the least," he said, pointing to his desire to get out of D.C. when he can.
His message will be "the strongest link of the American society is the family, and when it's weak, everything seems to fall apart. When it's strong, everything seems to work."
Ames, meanwhile, has a rich history in GOP presidential campaigning. A straw poll there helped elevate Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann during her White House run.
University of Iowa political scientist Brian Lai said campaign watchers, for now, probably shouldn't read in too much about Scott and presidential dreams tied to the visit. Scott, he said, joins what has become a traditional flow of senators and other elected conservatives into the state as they try to build national name recognition.
"A lot of people come that ultimately don't end up running," he said.
Lai did say one appeal of any Iowa trip is that it allows national figures to gauge conservative audiences and what sort of outside ground support they might have, or to collect the names of activists and potential donors.
Scott, meanwhile, faces only minimal opposition on the November ballot, including Democrat Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson. He was originally picked to fill the Senate seat in 2012 by Haley, while he was still in the U.S. House of Representatives, after previous seat-holder Jim DeMint quit to run the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.
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