A few hours before Donald Trump addressed conservative Christians at the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington on Friday, Sen. Tim Scott told them that a vote for the Republican nominee is a vote for “hope.”
“This year our election, it matters, and it’s a binary choice for me,” the South Carolina Republican said. “Either you're voting for the policies to continue that have been in place for the last eight years – more division, disaster and challenges – or you can vote for hope. You can vote for an alternative. You can vote . . . to make America great again,” he said, adding emphasis to Trump’s well-known election slogan.
While Scott did not mention Trump by name, this was a somewhat more direct endorsement than he has given in past months. Scott, who initially endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president ahead of South Carolina’s Republican primary in February, has consistently said he would support the eventual Republican nominee. After meeting with Trump in July with a group of Republican senators, Scott said he was seeing movement “in the right direction.”
But this summer Scott also criticized Trump for his comments about a Mexican-American judge overseeing the Trump University lawsuit, calling the comments “racially toxic,” and said he was mainly focusing on his job in Congress and his own re-election campaign.
I would love to stand here and tell you that this nation will be saved through politics. But y’all wouldn’t believe me anyway.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.
Scott was the first speaker of the summit Friday morning. His 20-minute address set an upbeat tone, with his booming voice and preacher’s enthusiasm seeming to wake up the sleepy audience.
As often happens when Scott speaks at such events, his address also was set apart by its optimistic message. While many speakers focused on a list of challenges faced by socially conservative Christians, from anti-abortion business owners who don’t want to sell the Plan B emergency contraceptive to attacks on public prayer, Scott’s main message was “the best is yet to come.”
“With all the divisions, with all the challenges, with all of the naysayers about who we are as Americans all over the globe and even at home – our best days are ahead of us,” he said.
However, Scott did not mention Trump by name during his address, and did not tie his message of hope to the candidate’s policies, instead focusing on the promise of young Americans.
“I believe that the next generation is going to draw and bring us into a place where the greatness of America is sensed, it is felt and it is seen all across the world,” he said.
“I would like to tell you that one day we’re going to have the perfect candidate to lead this country,” he said, stalling for comedic effect. “I don’t know what to tell you! I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.”
This is the 11th annual Values Voter Summit, which is sponsored by the legislative arm of the Family Research Council, an organization that advocates for socially conservative and Christian causes. The Republican vice presidential nominee, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will address the summit Saturday.