Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. The early stages of the 2024 race have begun. Tim Scott is off to a rough start.
He is screwing up on abortion.
GOP Sen. Tim Scott declines to say whether he supports Sen. Lindsey Graham's proposed 15-week federal abortion ban.@CHueyBurns: "If you were president, would you advocate for federal limits?"— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 12, 2023
Scott: "I'm 100% pro-life."
Huey-Burns: "So, yes?"
Scott: "That's not what I said." pic.twitter.com/SjXUP0gqIh
this is quite the word salad from Tim Scott on a national abortion ban pic.twitter.com/Yk9yFXmPQh— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 13, 2023
Perhaps the most basic rule for exploratory committees, however, is that they cannot refer to the person exploring a run as an actual candidate. Once they do that, the hopeful is essentially tossed in the deep end—and the race is on.
After launching his own exploratory committee on Wednesday morning, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) ran afoul of that fundamental rule.
One of the early fundraising blasts sent out by the Scott exploratory committee told potential donors: “Tim Scott is running for President of the United States!”
According to Paul S. Ryan, a campaign finance expert who’s filed successful complaints concerning the exploratory phase, that’s a serious no-no.
“Referring to yourself as a candidate is a fact with legal consequences under federal campaign finance law,” Ryan told The Daily Beast.
Federal Election Commission regulations on exploratory committees explicitly prohibit other activities. The potential candidates can’t publicize their intention to campaign, or inform the press when they will announce their candidacy.
In his own remarks, Scott himself has skirted the line: at an event in Iowa on Wednesday, Scott referred to his “candidacy” in the present tense—not future or conditional—in an interview with the AP.
If the South Carolina senator files paperwork for an official presidential campaign committee within the next 15 days, the phrasing is mostly just semantics—as long as the donations qualify retroactively under federal individual limits. (Individuals are allowed to give a campaign up to $3,300 for a primary election and the same amount for a general election.)