Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) had great things to say about the presidential candidate who nabbed his endorsement, Donald Trump—including standing by him as he lobbed conspiracies at the presidential candidate from his home state, Nikki Haley.
Scott, himself a former presidential candidate, explained his reasons for endorsing Trump on Sunday’s State of the Union, saying Trump provided “a stronger economy, a healthy military, and a safer world.” But when CNN moderator Dana Bash pressed Scott on Trump’s repeated insinuations that Haley was ineligible to be president, Scott tried to equivocate.
Bash brought up Trump’s false assertions that Haley was not born in the U.S., something he has suggested repeatedly on the campaign trail, and his repeated mocking of her first name, Nimarata, implicitly mocking her ethnicity. (Haley was born in South Carolina and has gone by her middle name Nikki for all her life.) “Are you comfortable with that kind of rhetoric from the…former president?” Bash asked.
Scott tried to disarm himself from having to defend or criticize Trump specifically, instead using his answer to employ a “both-sides” approach to attack both Haley and President Joe Biden.
“I’m watching rhetoric on all sides of the issue of becoming president,” Scott said. “The rhetoric from Joe Biden is terrible and it’s salacious. Nikki Haley questions whether 70-year-olds should be allowed to run for president. I think there’s so much negativity and toxicity in this aim to becoming president again or for the first time that we should be very clear and look at both sides of the comments made.”
Haley suggested on Saturday that “there is a decline” in people when they reach an older age, one of her most direct attacks on the former president throughout the race.
Scott was given another chance to claim the moral high ground, with Bash questioning whether he would rather Trump avoid names like “Nimrada” and “Nimbra” on the campaign trail. Instead, however, his neutrality on negativity remained.
“I would like for all politicians to comport themselves in a way that is consistent with the highest office on the campaign trail,” Scott said. “People say things and interestingly enough, after the campaign’s over, everybody unites. What we need in the Republican Party is to start uniting behind one candidate. That candidate is only going to be Donald Trump.”
Fox News on Sunday aired a brief interview that host Bret Baier conducted with Trump. Baier pressed Trump on his attacks on Haley’s name, an issue Trump seemed to relish in explaining.
“It just felt good to me with her,” Trump said. “A little bit of a take-off on her name, wherever she may come from.”