U.S. Sen. Tim Scott pledged to “earn” the public’s vote during a campaign stop at the Rock Hill/York County Airport on Friday morning that brought out local supporters and Republican Party leaders.
Scott was appointed to the Senate by Gov. Nikki Haley in 2013 after fellow Republican and tea party favorite Jim DeMint resigned to pursue a job at a conservative think tank. Previously, Scott served in the U.S. House and as a county councilman in his native Charleston.
“The gateway to the American dream is education,” said Scott, who is running on an education-heavy campaign that emphasizes school choice and training to fill the state’s growing industrial and engineering work force. “I want more options, more plans.”
Haley has advocated similar statewide priorities in her 2014 re-election bid.
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As of Friday morning, Scott faces one primary challenger from Greenville, Randall Young. Two Democrats have also filed to run for his seat: Richland County councilwoman Joyce Dickerson, and Rock Hill native and former York County councilman Sidney Moore.
Like other tea party-favored candidates, Scott promises to bring more accountability to the federal government by returning power to the states.
During his campaign stop in Rock Hill, Scott criticized President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for the federal health exchange website and advertising as examples of wasteful spending, and suggested that millions will remain uninsured despite the Affordable Care Act.
Rob Johnson, 70, a retired aviation manager, said he agrees with the senator on health care.
“You can’t insure everybody,” said Johnson, one of more than a dozen people who turned out for the event. “But everybody has access to health care. Having an insurance program doesn’t mean squat.”
“None of my legislation creates mandates on states,” Scott said, applying similar arguments against the Common Core initiative – a set of educational standards originally developed and implemented by state governors.
Common Core has come under fire from some Republicans who claim it creates a national curriculum that has fostered claims of a federal takeover of education. Some in the audience called the program a precursor to “communism” or “socialism.”
Glenn McCall, a member of the Republican National Committee from York County, said Scott’s focus on education is in line with local grass-roots opposition to Common Core and the committee’s take on schools.
McCall said the RNC also is working to build “dialogue” with communities of color that aren’t traditionally Republican as part of a program to diversify the party. Having politicians like Scott reach out to minority groups and non-Red areas is critical to “represent the entire state.”
Scott would not comment on the other challengers, but said his campaign is focused on meet-and-greets. The senator planned to make stops in Greenville and Spartanburg later in the day.