Freshman Republican Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) held the first of a series of presidential town hall meetings yesterday -- this one featuring former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Before the event, he talked with NBC News about why he decided to host the series.
“This will give us an opportunity to have our eyes on the candidate for an hour,” Scott said. “Hopefully, people will walk away with more information about where the person stands on the issues, and more importantly get a sense of how the person responds to the issues.”
When asked why candidates should come to South Carolina now while so much attention is trained on Iowa and New Hampshire, Scott pointed to the Palmetto State’s history of choosing the eventual Republican presidential nominee.
“Fortunately, [candidates] understand that if you win the South Carolina primary, you typically -- since 1980 -- become the presidential nominee of the Republican Party. That said, everyone should want to come here,” he said.
Despite that track record, the rise of the Tea Party in the state, spearheaded by Sen. Jim DeMint, has prompted some observers to speculate whether voters might chose someone other than the Republican front-runner. Last Sunday, The State newspaper asked, “Is South Carolina GOP set to go rogue?”
Scott said that while the Tea Party finds “a natural home” in South Carolina, the state “isn’t simply a Tea Party state; it is a cross-section of all of America,” pointing to the increasing number of retirees from northern states who move to South Carolina’s warm-weather coast as an example of a constituency that might not vote for a Tea Party-affiliated candidate.
Scott also touched on the closeness between himself and the other three freshmen members of South Carolina’s Republican House delegation –- a dynamic which Politico recently referred to as “South Carolina vs. the world.”
Scott said that the similar voting pattern of constituents in each of their Republican districts means that they “typically vote in a very consistent manner.”
“It’s not because we get together and collaborate and leave with one monolithic view of the world. It’s that based on the process that we use to understand the issues, we typically come to the same conclusion.”
Rep. Scott’s town hall series will continue this month, with Rep. Michele Bachmann appearing on Aug. 25.