In their desperate quest to find a 2024 alternative to former President Donald Trump, GOP donors have stumbled upon an elephant in the room: Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina is single.
That fact, long known among casual political observers, has suddenly sparked “curiosity” and a round of pearl-clutching among the GOP’s well-heeled donors, some of whom spoke to Axios anonymously given the “sensitivity of the issue.” As Axios notes, the country has not put a bachelor in the White House since Grover Cleveland in 1884.
Scott, a Bible-thumper with a sunny disposition and an inspirational personal story, has some upsides in Iowa, where the evangelical vote can ignite a GOP candidacy. But any legitimate Trump alternative also has to persuade donors they can go the distance against a man who will say basically anything to tear down a legitimate threat to his frontrunner status. Scott hasn’t reached that point yet, but it’s not hard to imagine Trump taking a swipe at Solo Scott.
Never been married, folks, at 57, Trump might say. I don’t know, I don’t know. Something weird going on there.
The not-so-subtle implication would be that Scott is gay—gasp!—which is exactly what Republican donors are freaking out about. Axios writes:
Top GOP donors and their allies privately are pushing Sen. Tim Scott‘s team for more detail about his bachelor status before deciding how much to support him in the presidential campaign, according to two people familiar with the conversations.
It’s perfectly on brand for a party weirdly obsessed with what people do in their bedrooms and bathrooms.
Scott doesn’t often bring up the topic of his own accord, but he did address it with Axios reporter Sophia Cai in a May interview. After Cai dared to broach the subject, Scott said he did have a girlfriend but didn’t disclose her name and then remarked that someone’s marital status has no bearing on their ability to be president.
“The fact that half of America’s adult population is single for the first time, to suggest that somehow being married or not married is going to be the determining factor of whether you’re a good president or not—it sounds like we’re living in 1963 and not 2023,” Scott said. Amen, brother. Just don’t tell the Republicans you’re unhitched.
In fact, Scott suggested, not being married was a real plus for a position so demanding. “I probably have more time, more energy, and more latitude to do the job,” Scott said. “My girlfriend wants to see me when I come home, but at the end of the day, the truth is that I am so thankful to be who I am, where I am.” Sounds like an unbreakable bond.
One source told Axios some donors aren’t super concerned about it, observing, “I’m surprised it doesn’t come up more.”
Oh, it will. If Scott gets serious traction, it will.
But as of right now, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Scott’s fellow South Carolinian and 2024 rival, upstaged him at last week’s debate. At the same time, Scott has the advantage of being boosted by billionaire backer Larry Ellison, who has showered a pro-Scott super PAC with tens of millions of dollars.
Regardless, this should get interesting. Scott reportedly plans to start addressing the issue of his bachelordom more in the weeks ahead. What could go wrong?
Trump’s continuing legal problems, the car crash of a Republican debate, and the polling numbers defy the traditional media’s narrative that the Republican Party is even above water with voters.