After South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is of Indian descent, appointed Rep. Tim Scott on Monday to Jim DeMint’s Senate seat, both were asked about and reflected on how Republicans can appeal to a broader demographic.
When Scott replaces DeMint in January, he will be the Senate’s only black senator, the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction, and the first black Republican Senator since Massachusetts’ Ed Brooke nearly three decades ago.
Scott said America is “still a center-right nation” and emphasized that “fresh faces and authenticity,” regardless of skin color, “go a long way in the political process.”
“We will go to new places and new territories and new lands in many ways and this message of conservatism will reach the ends of the nation in a positive way, and I look forward to taking the message… to the rest of the nation,” Scott said.
“It speaks to the evolution of South Carolina and our nation and to the heart of good people of our nation and, specifically, of our state,” Scott said of his appointment before noting that people across the state have been concerned more about his values and where he stands on issues than his “complexion.”
“What I have never heard was, ‘besides the fact that you are black or because you are black here’s what we want to do,'” Scott said. “That’s an amazing thing.”
Haley also acknowledged that the message, in the end, matters more than the messenger.
“The one thing the Republican party needs to understand is that the answer to winning elections is never about the messenger, it is about the message,” Haley said. “And that is what needs to be understood by our party.”
Scott and Haley reflect the diversity, contrary to what the mainstream media tries to portray, of conservatives elected on the Tea Party platform. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed both Haley and Scott in their respective primaries in 2010, and Tea Party conservatives — like DeMint and Palin — encouraged Haley to appoint Scott.