Sen. Tim Scott suspended his presidential campaign Sunday evening, just days after participating in the third Republican debate.
“I think the voters, who are the most remarkable people on the planet, have been really clear that they’re telling me, ‘not now Tim,” Scott said on Fox News, adding that he doesn’t plan to endorse anyone in the primary.
His departure from the race comes two weeks after former Vice President Mike Pence, who made his surprise announcement during the annual Republican Jewish Coalition event in Las Vegas at the end of October.
Some Scott staffers were unaware of their candidate’s plan to drop out, learning in real time with the rest of the country.
Scott has been floated as a potential vice presidential pick for former President Donald Trump, who is a fan of the conservative lawmaker and has warned aides against attacking him. In recent weeks, Scott began to ramp up his attacks against some of his opponents, though he seemed reluctant to criticize Trump directly.
Scott launched his presidential bid in May and sought to offer up a more optimistic message compared to some of his opponents, but was unable to garner a significant standing in state and national polls — and at times seemed to struggle to reach debate stage requirements.
Scott attracted a respected team of GOP consultants, and captivated some major party donors – especially Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, who poured $30 million into a Scott super PAC before the campaign started. His easy Senate re-elections helped him fill one of the field’s largest war chests.
That helped fund multi-million dollar ad buys that introduced him to early state voters. When he entered the race, Scott had the highest net-favorable rating of any Republican running in Iowa and New Hampshire; at multi-candidate events, where he often leapt offstage to roam around the crowd, he got some of the warmest receptions. He emphasized his faith, including (eventually) his support for a national abortion ban, and his biography as a Black man who rose from humble beginnings with a bootstraps mentality, saying it made him “the candidate the far left fears the most.”
Despite his popularity, Scott was never able to break out of the crowded Republican field, and his optimistic messaging seemed to fall flat with voters looking for a fighter. While he tried to split the difference with a message that relentlessly attacked the “radical left” for dividing Americans and undermining critical institutions, the combination ultimately proved limited in its appeal after that brief and early burst of interest.