One of the most unexpected political narratives emerging during this young 2024 campaign season has revolved around the marital status of the top-polling Black candidate running for president of the United States.
With Republican donors reportedly pressing the issue, the storyline of the single South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott seeking the presidency has dominated headlines ahead of the second Republican presidential debate later this month. As a result, Scott, who turns 58 next week, has been unable to avoid the scrutiny of being a bachelor that critics suggest might be rooted in homophobia more than it is a nod to Republicans’ so-called family values.
That’s likely why Scott has been increasingly mentioning his “girlfriend” in recent weeks.
So, who is Tim Scott’s girlfriend”? Here’s what he’s said.
The topic of Scott’s singleness has likely come up before, but it’s never made national headlines the way it is now.
It was seemingly first brought to the national consciousness in an interview with NBC News in May when he was asked whether he “had time for a woman” in his life amid a presidential campaign.
“Oh, there’s always– there’s always time for– a great relationship with a wonderful woman. And I thank god that that is happening. But– so I’ll leave it there,” Scott said cryptically.
About a week later, Scott went lightly more into depth while casually mentioning during an interview with Axios that he has a “girlfriend” in response to a question about why voters would want to hear about family values from an unmarried man with no children.
While explaining that we’re not “living in 1963,” Scott suggested he lives with his “girlfriend” and emphasized that his status as an unmarried man allows him more time for work and with his partner. “My girlfriend wants to see me when I get home,” Scott said.
Ever since then, Scott has been pressed about being unmarried. That truth has especially been ramped up in the last few weeks, including late last month with a separate Axios report claiming that “GOP donors fret over Scott’s single status.”
In that instance, an anonymous “senior official for Scott’s campaign told Axios the South Carolina senator will be discussing the issue in the coming weeks,” the news outlet wrote.
Days later, without mentioning his “girlfriend,” Scott said without proof that his opponents were plating stories in the press about his unmarried status which he said “voters don’t care” about, NBC News reported.
“People plant stories that have conversations to distract from our rise in the polls, to distract from our size of our audience,” Scott said. “What we’ve seen is that poll after poll says that the voters don’t care, but it seems like opponents do care, and so media coverage that opponents plant — it’s OK. Good news is we just keep fighting the good fight.”
And now, just this past weekend, Scott vowed on Fox News to reveal the identity of his “wonderful girlfriend” and reiterated that the reason his unmarried status has become such a big deal is because his candidacy instills fear in the other Republicans running for president.
“I have a wonderful girlfriend, and we have a wonderful relationship,” Scott said on Saturday. “The good news is that God has blessed me with a smart, Christian woman. That’s great news, but more importantly is, why are the headlines there? The headlines are there because as I rise in the polls, as people show up at night in my town halls, it scares even my opponents.”
Scott said his “girlfriend” would be introduced to the world “at some point.”
On Tuesday, Scott had even more to say about his “girlfriend” in an interview with the Washington Post. He repeated his plans to introduce her to the world and suggested he had intentions to marry her.
“I can’t imagine dragging her onto the campaign trail unless I have the intention of marrying her,” Scott told the Post. “I hope that happens, to be honest with you.”
Scott did not allow the Post to meet his “girlfriend,” but his campaign manager vouched for her. However, the Post reported that “six friends” of Scott “said they didn’t know about a woman in his life.”
The United States has not elected an unmarried president since James Buchanan in 1856, or 167 years ago. But it’s important to note that when Scott’s fellow unmarried Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham ran for president in 2016, this type of scrutiny was missing from his campaign.
Perhaps that’s because, as Scott says, his candidacy is seen as more of a viable threat to the front-runners than Graham’s candidacy was seen during the 2016 election cycle.
But, maybe – just maybe – it’s a bit deeper than that, what with the so-called “woke” culture wars being waged by Republicans against everything from Black history school curriculum to gay rights and much more.
“‘Bachelor status’ is code for ‘sexual identity,’” Boston Globe columnist and associate opinion editor Renée Graham explained last week. “And Republicans not keen on a candidate facing four criminal trials might be even more unlikely to support someone they might believe could be a closeted gay man.”
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