When Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) formally announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination during a rally in his home state Monday morning, he and other supporters will bow their heads and be led in prayer by one of Scott’s newest public supporters: Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the second-highest-ranking Republican in the Senate.
The move underscores the steady support Scott, 57, has been building in the months running up to his official announcement while emphasizing the role of his religious faith in his appeal to supporters.
Thune will attend the launch event, Politico reported earlier on Sunday. Thune will lead the campaign attendees in a prayer for Scott at the event, according to a person familiar with the campaign who asked not to be identified to reveal details that were not yet public. The event will take at the Charleston Southern University Buccaneer Fieldhouse, in North Charleston, S.C. Scott is then expected to travel this week to Iowa and New Hampshire, key states holding early nominating contests.
It’s the latest show of support for Scott’s underdog campaign. Last week, he was endorsed by South Dakota’s junior senator, Mike Rounds. Scott has been competing for local support with another candidate in the race, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who appointed him to the Senate in 2013, which has created some uncomfortable divisions among the state’s party leaders.
The 2024 race for the Republican nomination, like in 2016 and 2020, is dominated by Donald Trump, who is leading his rivals in public support and financial resources. Other candidates in the race include former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy, and conservative radio host Larry Elder. Former vice president Mike Pence is likely to enter the race soon. Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu have also said that they are considering running.
Trump’s best-known and well-funded challenger, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, is expected to enter the race this week and has signaled his willingness to directly challenge the former president.
DeSantis told donors in a private call last week that only he and President Biden stood “a chance” to get elected president “based on all the data in the swing states,” the New York Times reported.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) was asked about DeSantis’s comments on Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” by host Jake Tapper. “I don’t think Trump can win a general election,” Cassidy concurred, but he added that DeSantis’s remark was also a “way for him to diss people like Tim Scott, who is a pretty formidable candidate.”
Trump has already garnered strong support among influential Republicans. In April, Sen. Steve Daines (Mont.), chair of the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, said he was endorsing Trump and will be supporting him in his presidential campaign. The former president’s backers include Sens. J.D. Vance of Ohio, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Eric Schmitt of Missouri, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.