U.S. Rep. Tim Scott already has attracted more attention than your average congressional freshman and said he plans to form a new political action committee to expand his reach.
"We kept getting so many requests to speak in different parts of the country and to help candidates around the nation looking forward to an opportunity to change the debate," he said.
Meanwhile, Scott said he still has not decided who to support in Saturday's GOP presidential primary here. He confirmed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is in the running for his endorsement and that Texas Rep. Ron Paul is not and said he might endorse tonight or Friday.
"I'm still in the air a little bit," he said.
Scott said the new committee -- named Tomorrow is Meaningful or "TIM-PAC" -- will help find and support other conservative Republican candidates for Congress and other offices. It also will advise them how to use their life experiences to connect with voters.
He hoped it could raise $200,000 or more to help at least 60 candidates during the coming year.
Scott announced the committee Wednesday on the same day GQ magazine named him one of Washington's 50 most powerful people -- a list that also includes athletes, restaurateurs and U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.
GQ's assessment has been echoed by others. U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said Wednesday he was surprised Scott wasn't higher up the magazine's list.
"I think he is the most influential member of the freshman class," Gowdy said, "and will have a future in elected politics, in my judgment and based on merit, as long as he wants."
TIM-PAC will be led by Nick Muzin, Scott's current chief of staff and the architect of Scott's successful presidential town hall series -- a series that brought seven of eight Republican presidential hopefuls to the Lowcountry to answer voters' questions. Muzin's old job will be filled by Scott's deputy chief of staff Joe McKeown.
Muzin said Scott -- one of the first two black Republicans elected to Congress since Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts stepped down in 2006 -- "is a unique political figure who not only can bridge the divide between tea party and establishment conservatives but also appeals to new blocks of voters in a way that I believe represents the future of the GOP."
Scott said he hopes his new committee can reach out to new potential Republican candidates and voters, but he stopped short of describing it as an attempt to diversify the party. "I'm not going out there simply recruiting minority candidates," he said. "My goal is to find ones on the same common ground and bring them together."
GQ magazine listed Scott No. 29 on its list of Washington's 50 most powerful. It noted Scott has "Tea Party street cred" while also being plugged into the GOP's 13-person leadership team.
Finally, it referred to Scott's presidential town hall series, a forum that hosted seven of the eight major Republican candidates this primary season. Only Paul did not take Scott up on his offer.
"Every Republican presidential candidate who harbors any hopes of winning the South Carolina primary has come to Charleston to kiss his ring," GQ said.
The magazine said some Republicans were frustrated with DeMint because he backed some unelectable tea party candidates last fall, "but Republicans have swallowed their anger and now try to stay on DeMint's good side, if only because they don't want him sending his irate band of Tea Partiers after them."
DeMint and his fellow South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham have decided to remain on the fence during this year's presidential primary. "I'm looking for the most conservative person I think can win. I'm still looking," Graham said Wednesday.
Graham said there are really good candidates, "and we don't believe one has the magic answer versus the others. The public is able to sort this out as well as we are."
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.