CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - U.S. Sen. Tim Scott received partisan praise following his response to President Joe Biden’s first address to Congress Wednesday night.
The South Carolina Republican credited the GOP for leading the country out of its pandemic struggles and toward a hopeful future. He belittled the new president’s initial priorities — aimed at combating the deadly virus and spurring the economy — as wasteful expansions of big government.
“We should be expanding options and opportunities for all families, not throwing money at certain issues because Democrats think they know best,” Scott said.
But he saved some of his sharpest comments for the fraught subject of race. Scott recounted his rise from a low-income family and “the pain” of repeatedly being pulled over by police while driving but said, “Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country.”
Biden and other Democrats have cited institutional racism as a major national problem.
While acknowledging that “our healing is not finished,” Scott suggested that Democrats and liberals have turned the race issue upside down.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham praised his fellow South Carolinian on Twitter after the response, saying he has “never been more proud” of Scott.
“He did an outstanding job representing the conservative point of view and the state of South Carolina!” Graham posted.
In a video accompanying the post, Graham made the following statement:
“I think my colleague, Senator Tim Scott did an outstanding job showing the American people an alternative, that we really do have many of the same goals, Republicans and Democrats. We have just a different way of getting there. I think Sen. Scott understands the racial divide very well, and his approach to solving the problem, police reform, that doesn’t pit the cop against their community of color. I think Sen. Scott’s dead on when he says it’s a false choice between backing the men and women in blue, and communities of color. The people who need policing the most are disadvantaged communities with high crime rates.
Sen. Scott’s view of how to create jobs, the limited role of government: The best thing you can do for anyone struggling is give them a quality education through school choice and the hope of good paying jobs. I’ve never been more proud of him than I am tonight. He did an outstanding job representing the conservative point. And did it in a way that was respectful. And I think it would be a game changer for the Republican Party.
Meanwhile, SCGOP Chair Drew McKissick released his own statement on Scott’s message:
Sen. Scott did what he does best: explain our conservative values to folks in a way that makes sense on a personal level. The Biden Administration claims they want unity and to move our country forward, but their radical policies do the exact opposite and Senator Scott proved that tonight.
Tim Scott is the comprehensive conservative who knows firsthand the importance of expanding access to the classroom through school choice, empowering individuals by cutting taxes and government spending, and coming together under the American Dream. South Carolina is proud of our junior senator.
Graham himself made similar comments about the nation’s racial problems last weekend on Fox News, saying that America is “not a racist country.”
At a news conference in North Charleston this week, Graham elaborated on his comments on race.
“Jim Crow is systemic racism,” Graham said on Monday. “There was a time in South Carolina and in the country, where you had a hard time voting if you’re African American. The laws were set up, so you wouldn’t be registered and you’d have a hard time actually voting. That’s not the case today.”
Graham gave Scott, the only African American in the U.S. Senate, as an example of why he believes the country as a whole is not racist. He also included President Barack Obama, Vice President Kamala Harris and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who was of Indian descent, as examples that shattered the belief that people of color cannot succeed in America.
Biden used his first address before a joint session of Congress to make the case that his administration has made progress during the first 100 days he’s been in office, confronting the public health and economic maelstrom caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden also used the prime-time address to make his pitch directly to Americans for his expansive — and expensive — vision to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges, water pipes and other infrastructure, bolster public education and extend other benefits for a wide swath of Americans.