(Feb. 13) Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is reportedly preparing to run for president. This could be a great thing for him and for the country, but with some important caveats.

Seven weeks ago, I pronounced Scott “the most fascinating politician of 2023,” whether or not he runs for president. The fact that he is black is almost beside the point — what matters, I wrote, “is his combination of substance and demeanor. In both policy focus and style, Scott offers a return to a cheerfully Reaganesque sense of can-do, but far from naive, optimism.”

Sure enough, the Wall Street Journal reports that Scott’s intended message is “focused on unity and optimism,” or, as his adviser Jennifer DeCasper put it, “his vision of hope and opportunity.” For those of us of an age to have been inspired by former President Ronald Reagan and former congressman-turned-HUD Secretary Jack Kemp, this is music to our hearts. Scott has given substance to it by spearheading good legislation on “opportunity zones” and by leading efforts for constructive policing reforms while refusing to surrender to Democrats who are more interested in punishing the police than helping them.

And, as if to give the lie to those who say that a zealotry for political kill-shots is the very mark of a successful conservative, Scott is as solid and successful a conservative as can be imagined, with a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 90%. There can be no doubt about the campaigning toughness of a man who vanquished not one but two political dynasties in the famously cutthroat Republican politics of his native South Carolina, but Scott also has the old-school sensibility that one wins more converts through likability than by being a bully. He knows and acts as if not all adversaries are permanent enemies…. [The full column is here.]


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