The following is a transcript of an interview with Sen. Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina and 2024 GOP presidential hopeful, that aired on “Face the Nation” on Oct. 8, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to go now to South Carolina Senator and Republican presidential candidate Tim Scott. Welcome back to Face The Nation.
SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Thank you, Margaret. Good to be back with you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, Friday’s jobs number shattered expectations. It showed some economic momentum. In fact, restaurant hospitality hiring back to pre-pandemic levels. That seems to undercut your argument that the economy is broken.
SEN. SCOTT: Well, all you have to do is talk to the average American family and ask them what they feel- how they feel about “Bidenomics.” The answer is very simple. We’ve lost over $5,000 of spending power since January 2021. You can also ask them about the price of gas, 40% higher today than it was then, 20% higher for your electricity, 20% higher for your food. For a guy who grew up in a household with a single mother mired in poverty, when you see this kind of inflation over the last two years, it is devastating to the average American family. We should always celebrate the creation of jobs, but we should never forget that we went 52 consecutive paychecks, 52 consecutive paychecks with a loss of spending power.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you blame political leadership, not the Federal Reserve?
SEN. SCOTT: Well, if you think about the fact that over the last, I guess year and a half, we’ve seen a 16% inflation since Joe Biden’s taken office, which led to 11 consecutive rate increases, that downward pressure on economy certainly created cracks and fissures throughout the economy. That was caused by Joe Biden’s lack of leadership and understanding of how to create jobs in America. The first quarter of this year, we saw our- growth of our economy at one percent. As the next president United States, what I will do is focus on creating jobs here in America. My “Made in America” plan is the bedrock of my “build, not borrow” by having more than three million jobs created in the energy sector, seeing two million jobs through innovation–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Jobs aren’t the problem though.
SEN. SCOTT: – and another four million jobs because of bringing high tech manufacturing jobs created in America by bringing our factories home. I’m sorry, Margaret, what did you say?
MARGARET BRENNAN: I said jobs don’t seem to be the problem, though. But- but I want to bring up something specific about your economic plan because the Wall Street Journal editorial board, which is conservative leaning, it did praise many parts of it. But they zeroed in on your promise to offer the child tax credit to pregnant women, criticizing it saying “that is social policy masquerading as economics.” Why are they and other Republicans wrong?
SEN. SCOTT: Well, here’s the question. Do we want to find a way to encourage life in this country? I think the answer is yes. Creating a culture that benefits a single mother like the one that raised me when she gets pregnant, why not extend the child tax credit to when the mother understands that she’s pregnant? Let’s give her that benefit. Every single thing that we do that encourages family and encourages mothers to continue forward, I think that’s a good thing. As a matter of fact, if you look at the tax code of our country, the one thing since the 1930s, that we’ve seen in our tax code, is having the tax code create the kind of America that we want. It’s one of the reasons why in 2017, I wrote the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. One of the things I did I took in consideration my mom, a single mother, the single mother in 2017, averaged about $40,000 per single mom, cutting her taxes by 70%, produced more resources so that she could put more food on the table and keep the lights on, I’ll never back down from helping single mothers like the one that raised me and mothers overall, be in a better position to take care of their families. I don’t care who disagrees with that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m wondering here in Washington about the paralysis that we are seeing in the House now that they do not have a speaker and they can’t move basic legislation on a defense bill or government funding until they sort that out. The Senate is in recess until October 16 and they haven’t passed any spending bills. So how confident are you Congress is going to avoid a shutdown next month?
SEN. SCOTT: Well, you have until November the 17 to figure that out, Margaret. I will say without any question, the road to socialism runs right through a divided Republican Party. When you have 221 members of the party in the House, you need 218 to choose a speaker. One of the things they should do is go behind closed doors. Let’s figure this out in advance. I’m going to focus on creating a red wave where we have greater majorities in the House than we have today, win back the majority in the Senate and as the next president of the United States, we will get the job done.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you have a Speaker of the House in mind?
SEN. SCOTT: I don’t. One of the things I’ve noticed about those of us outside of the House, the last thing we need are more voices in the House. You- you- you are a brilliant woman you understand this as well as anybody else, there are multiple factions in the House. The last thing we need are more voices on the outside weighing in on the House of Representatives.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So it sounds like you disagree with Donald Trump on his decision to wade into that, you know, one of the sticking points on aid–
SEN. SCOTT: — I do.
MARGARET BRENNAN: — One of the sticking points is aid to Ukraine, which I know you have said is vital to U.S. interests. How do you persuade reluctant Republicans to sign on?
SEN. SCOTT: Well Margaret, one of the things that we saw in the last aid package that was absolutely missing, was only four billion dollars to finish the construction of the wall, five billion dollars to use the available military- military grade technology to surveil our border, to stop 70,000 Americans from losing their lives in the next 12 months, because we saw that in the last 12 months. So if you were to be able to, so to speak, walk and chew gum at the same time, if you solved our national security issue on our southern border, in addition to aid to Ukraine, you’d have the kind of package that most Americans and frankly, most members of both houses will sign off on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you’re saying rather than make an affirmative case on Ukraine, to persuade Republicans, you have to offer them an incentive based on the border, that they have to be bundled together?
SEN. SCOTT: No, I’m saying that our border- I’m saying that our border is insecure, unsafe and wide open, because that’s just the way Joe Biden has wanted it. In order for us to make progress–
MARGARET BRENNAN: — But Congress also hasn’t legislated anything to change that.
SEN. SCOTT: — we need to deal with the national- you need to deal with your national emergency that includes our southern border. I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you. I was already talking. What’d you say?
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I know it’s always hard on a remote. I said, well Congress also hasn’t legislated.
SEN. SCOTT: Well, we have. I mean, frankly, the fact of the matter is that Joe Biden has left our southern border wide open on purpose. It was intentional. He has not lifted a finger to do anything other than literally sell off the construction material for the wall. That tells us exactly how he feels about it. It’s the mayor, the mayor of- Mayor Adams of New York City, Governor Hochul, that has brought this attention to him, because there’s an election cycle coming up. And so they’re more concerned about the opinions of blue states, blue cities, than they are 70,000 Americans and those families who lost their loved ones because of fentanyl: something, if we had a wall, if we had the technology on the border, we could save tens of thousands of American lives. And as the next president, that’s just what I’ll do.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So- but you are in Congress right now, and it is Congress that would write and potentially move some of those border bills. So what is it that you want to see specifically bundled into the Ukraine aid package that you referenced? If- if border has to be part of it, what is the bottom line for Tim Scott?
SEN. SCOTT: Let me give you a few pieces of that. Number one, $10 billion to finish the wall. Number two, five billion dollars for the military grade technology. Number three, let’s restore the “Remain in Mexico” policy. Number four, let’s reinstate some form of a Title 42, a health emergency for fentanyl, not for COVID, so that we can continue to reduce the numbers. And number five, let’s change the asylum policy so that we are in a better position for those seeking asylum, to first seek them in a country contiguous with the one they’re coming from.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So this week, the Venezuelan government announced that they have agreed to accept back into their country some of the migrants who crossed unlawfully into the United States. That hadn’t been happening for some time. Do you support that Biden administration diplomatic initiative?
SEN. SCOTT: Well, there’s no doubt when the Biden administration decided to give work permits to those Venezuelans, you would only expect for an acceleration of more Venezuelans coming to our country, frankly, illegally. And so to see the Biden administration find common sense is a good thing. I wish they just would have found it in January of 2021.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There are a number of things on that, that- that we could dig into, but I’m cognizant of the time. And I want to ask you- you were at the Capitol during the attack on January 6, and I remember vividly an image of you, with your eyes closed in prayer, holding hands with then Vice President Mike Pence during the violence that day. Donald Trump, of course, as you know, didn’t want that election certified. Just this week, Liz Cheney, who was one of the January 6 investigators said Jim Jordan knew more than anyone else about what Trump had planned, quote, “if the Republicans decide Jim Jordan should be Speaker of the House, there would no longer be any possible way to argue a group of elected Republicans could be counted on to defend the Constitution.” Does that revelation by her concern you?
SEN. SCOTT: Well, number one, I have no idea what Jim Jordan knew or didn’t know. I have no idea what Liz Cheney has said or has facts towards. I’m gonna focus on the things that I actually know something about. And what I know is that preserving the American Dream for the next generation is why I’m running for president. So I will focus on restoring hope, creating opportunities and protecting the America that we love. The innuendos and the rumors, I can’t respond to those because I have no clue what in the world she’s talking about, or what he did or did not know.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, she was one of the investigators. So presumably, it’s more than innuendo. In fact, one of the lead investigators. Are you at all curious about whether there were complicit members of Congress?
SEN. SCOTT: Listen, I think there’s an investigation, that part of the process- that’s part of the process. Here’s what you’re asking: you’re asking me to weigh in on something that I have no knowledge of. I’m not going to pretend to know something that I just don’t know.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, having- having been there that day, and clearly concerned, as that image captures, I- I wanted to know how you think of it, given that’s quite the allegation. And this person is someone as potential speaker you- you’d be working with quite directly. And if you are president might potentially have to continue working with.
SEN. SCOTT: Well, I certainly would continue to work with anyone who wants to put America’s agenda, America’s priorities based on what the American people are talking about first. That means looking at the Biden economy and finding a way to make sure that that doesn’t happen during my administration. It means creating jobs. I’m willing to work with the House and the Senate, frankly, hopefully a new majority in the Senate, to not only finish the border wall, but to make sure that we use the technology that you and I discussed earlier. I’m willing to work with anyone on unleashing every single energy resource that we have in this country and doubling nuclear production in the next 10 years. What I’m not willing to do is to have a conversation about someone and something that they supposedly know, but I don’t have the ability to-to discern.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. If someone other than Donald Trump, like yourself, wins this Republican primary. Do you fear future political violence in this country?
SEN. SCOTT: I don’t. Listen, one of the things that we should all appreciate and respect about America is that we are literally the city on the hill. We have a polarized America in some part. But every single place I travel, every state that I go to, every city I’m in, the one thing I walk away is I’m marveling at the goodness of the American people. Our people are strong, our government is weak. We just need to continue to bring this nation together, and that’s one of the things that I’ve been championing for the last five months, and I hope to champion as the next president of the United States.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Tim Scott, Senator, thank you for your time today.
SEN. SCOTT: Yes, ma’am. Yes, ma’am.
Evan Massoud is a political analyst with a knack for dissecting policy and governance. He provides readers with informed perspectives on political developments at home and abroad. Evan’s dedication to civic engagement extends to volunteering in local politics.