U.S. Sen. Tim Scott says President Donald Trump's tweets, including his "go back" message to four minority congresswomen, isn't harming Scott's efforts to attract minority conservative candidates for 2020.
"The president's Twitter account has not been an impediment to attracting more people to the conversation that I'm willing to have," he said. "So that's, once again, good news."
The conversation Scott, R-S.C., — and the only black Republican in the Senate — is willing to have is the effort announced last month dubbed the Empower America Project.
Done in partnership with Jimmy Kemp of the Jack Kemp Foundation, Scott is honorary chairman of the group that hopes to put more minority men and women conservatives on next year's ballot nationwide, from Congress on down.
Scott brought Kemp the idea about a year ago as means of expanding a tent that is overwhelmingly male and white. Kemp is the son of Jack Kemp, the former GOP congressman and NFL quarterback who was outspoken on race and equality.
One of the stated goals is "to identify, train, and invest in conservative candidates from diverse backgrounds who believe in freedom and opportunity for all."
Over the coming months, Scott plans to increase his discussions with African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities about running for office.
"There's a hunger and a thirst for how do I, as a unique candidate, present my conservative principles in the most effective way to be successful at the ballot box," Scott told Palmetto Politics.
"Oftentimes, they are going to run as Republicans but sometimes they're running in non-partisan races," he added.
While Scott said Trump's history of tweets hasn't affected the core mission, he was one of the few Republicans to call the president out, labeling his tweet telling the four women to “go back” and help fix the “broken and crime infested” countries they came from, racially offensive.
As far as minority recruiting goes, Scott's realistic target is to get involved in six to nine races for 2020, federal and state.
"If we have three candidates, my goal is have three wins," he said. "If we have nine candidates, my goal is to have, you know, seven or eight win."
He continued, "So I don't need 50 candidates to produce three or four victories. I probably need 10 candidates to get four or five, maybe even six or seven victories," he said. "We're taking the 'rifle' approach rather than the 'shotgun' approach."
There are hurdles ahead, including candidate inexperience and name ID. There's also a need for money, especially in races against an entrenched incumbent.
And there's the calendar. For example, South Carolina's candidate filing period is just two weeks long, opening and closing in mid- to late March. That means the clock is running.
There's also the nature of some of the districts: Scott says he's found no one so far to run in either of South Carolina's two congressional seats held by Democrats: Jim Clyburn's 6th District around Columbia, Charleston and the Midlands (which is not one he'd play in anyway, he says), and Joe Cunningham's 1st District that covers greater Charleston and the coast.
Scott says there's reason to be positive. On Wednesday in New York, Scherie Murray, a black businesswoman and advertising executive who immigrated from Jamaica as a child, announced her Republican bid to run for the congressional seat held by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — one of the congresswomen Trump targeted.
She wasn't recruited by Scott's group, but she's the type of candidate Scott is looking for.