GOP Presidential Hopeful Tim Scott Discusses Abortion, Immigration, Education and Beginning Each Day With Scripture
‘The fact of the matter is the Gospel always leads us in the right direction of providing assistance. ... I think we have an opportunity — not just a responsibility, but an opportunity — to live out that message.’
GOP 2024 hopeful Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., believes the country should set an abortion limit at 15 weeks, sees Catholic schools as a good example of quality education, and tries to ground his policy plans in his Christian faith.
The 58-year-old senator, who assumed office in January 2013 after being appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley to replace retiring Sen. Jim DeMint in December 2012, previously served the Palmetto State in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013. An evangelical Protestant, he spoke Sunday about these issues and more with EWTN News Nightly correspondent Erik Rosales, who caught up with him on the campaign trail in Iowa.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
You supported [and] co-sponsored the 15-week abortion ban. Even Susan B. Anthony Pro Life America says that’s a good start. Do you see any sort of compromise with this, or what’s your policy on abortion?
I have a 100%, thankfully, pro-life voting record. I’m 100% pro-life conservative. As president of the United States, I would sign very conservative pro-life legislation, and that’s why we start with a 15-week limit across the nation. We cannot allow states like California or Illinois to have abortion up until the day of birth. That is just wrong. So stopping that from happening and then creating the culture of life is how we win and are successful in saving more lives.
Another issue that you’re very strong on is school choice. We’ve seen an increase in enrollment in Catholic schools after COVID, even during COVID. Do you see this as a broader issue that needs to be taken by the states or is there a federal mandate that you can come up with?
I certainly believe in federalism, which means that the issue of education is a state and local issue. Primarily, the federal government provides two major buckets of resources: One is Title 1 for failing and challenging schools; Title 2 for kids with special needs. I would make both of those buckets of dollars portable. Wherever the kid goes, the money follows. There’s no question that quality education is really important; and, frankly, as a result of COVID, we saw kids trapped and out of the classroom.
But in Catholic schools, by and large, they were still in the schools and the precipitous drop, the largest drop in test scores in American history, came because of COVID, but the Catholic schools saw their numbers stay steady or even improve. That drastic contrast is alive for every American to see, and we want more quality education. And I can’t think of a better example of that right now in America than Catholic schools.
Let’s get to the two wars taking place right now. We have Israel versus Hamas and Ukraine versus Russia. The president has asked for more money from Congress. What do you see are the priorities for this as president of the United States?
If I were president, the one thing I would say is the immediate beginning of the war that Israel is going to have to wage against Hamas to wipe them off the map. We should have our single-minded approach in funding Israel and giving them the resources, replenishing the supplies that are necessary for them to be successful.
We have engaged for the last two years in support for Ukraine. I think separating the issues so that we can give a bipartisan, hopefully unanimous, support for the state of Israel. If we can do that, that will be in America’s best interest, and it will show no daylight, standing shoulder to shoulder, back to back, with the nation of Israel.
One of the issues that we’re seeing right now is the crisis at the southern border. Talk to me a little bit about what would you like to see done as president, first thing, for the southern border?
Well, there’s no doubt that if you don’t control the back door of your house, it’s probably not going to be your house for very long; and without a southern border, we will lose our country. Having a southern border with a wall is incredibly important. But also, you want a smart wall, with the kind of technology that sees the tunnels below and the activities above. So, using military-grade technology on our southern border will stop the flow of fentanyl that has led to the deaths of 70,000 Americans in just 12 months. Having a physical barrier would slow down the more than 6 million illegal crossings and the 200-plus people caught on our national security watch list. The dangers at our southern border will be felt in homes across America.
DACA is another big issue taking place right now. Thousands of kids are here. They want to become U.S. citizens. Even the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calls for immigration reform. Is that something that would be part of your presidency?
I look in the past, and I see that coalitions have come together even under the former president. President [Donald] Trump put a deal together for Congress, where you had DACA, border protection; and, unfortunately, it fell apart because without first dealing with the southern border crisis, it’s really hard for us to get to Step 2 and deal with any other issues. And so, my position would be the same: that the most compassionate thing we can do immediately is to eliminate the threat coming from our southern border. That opens up the conversation for us to talk about a meritocracy in this nation as it relates to a border, as it relates to immigration policy.
Let’s talk a little bit about racism. It’s still alive out there in America. You are a conservative Southern man, but also a conservative Southern Black man. You are a mentor. You are someone people of color look up to as a leader. Do you see the presidency still having that hurdle for a person of color?
I think in this nation you can be anything you want to be, to include the president of the United States. We’ve seen it happen in the past. The good news is I have great confidence in the voters of our country to choose a candidate that best represents their character, not the color of their skin.
My goal as a presidential candidate is to make sure enough American voters get to hear and see and even feel my message; when that happens, it will be their choice. So getting there is our objective, but I have no doubt in my mind that the American people will support the best candidate with a character that reflects theirs as long as we get in front of them.
Talk to me a little bit about how your faith has shaped your political decisions.
In 2013, I came up with something called the “Opportunity Agenda.”
My faith is embedded in my Opportunity Agenda. I’ll give you a couple of examples. No. 1: I believe that Matthew 25 tells us a lot about the cohorts of Americans who need specific and unique attention, whether it be widowers or people who are incarcerated who need our attention. The fact of the matter is the Gospel always leads us in the right direction of providing assistance. It says, “When did I see you hungry and feed you? When did I see you thirsty and give you something to drink? When did I see you naked and clothe you? As you’ve done unto the least of these, so you do it unto me.”
I think we have an opportunity — not just a responsibility, but an opportunity — to live out that message. Of course, I do believe that — as the Book of Proverbs reminds us — if you can do it for yourself, that is your responsibility. But for those who cannot do it for themselves, we have an opportunity to provide assistance.
The campaign trail can be very tough. How do you keep your spiritual glass filled?
The only way to do it is to start every single day off in the word of God. Every day I have the opportunity. And when I wake up, the first thing I do is pray. The second thing I do is open the Book of Proverbs and read the Proverbs of the day; and then the third thing I do is a devotional. And then I listen to some positive, praiseworthy music. And then I get into my news of the day and the job, but if I ever — sometimes I have in the past — get confused and start with the politics of the day, it kind of ruins your day. And so, for me, the more I search out the Gospel, the better off I am the entire day. But you can’t let yesterday’s Gospel work for today. You need it every single day.
Erik Rosales is Capitol Hill correspondent for EWTN News Nightly, airing weekdays at 6 p.m. ET on EWTN.