WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump praised Sen. Tim Scott Monday as the South Carolina Republican entered the 2024 presidential race, calling him a “big step up” from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“Good luck to Senator Tim Scott in entering the Republican Presidential Primary Race,” Trump, 76, wrote on Truth Social. “It is rapidly loading up with lots of people, and Tim is a big step up from Ron DeSanctimonious, who is totally unelectable.”
The 45th president then added: “I got Opportunity Zones done with Tim, a big deal that has been highly successful. Good luck Tim!”
DeSantis, who has yet to enter the race but is expected to do so in the coming days, will likely be Trump’s biggest obstacle to winning the GOP nomination for a third consecutive cycle.
According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Trump enjoyed 56.3% support among national Republican voters compared to 19.4% for DeSantis. Meanwhile, Scott came in with just 1.8%, behind former Vice President Mike Pence (5.6%), former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (4.3%) and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy (3.6%).
Later Monday, Trump posted a Fox News graphic taken from a Morning Consult tracking poll that showed him with 61% support, followed by DeSantis at 18%, Pence at 6%, and Haley and Ramaswamy at 4% each. Scott (1%) was nowhere to be seen.
The former president’s “Opportunity Zones” statement was a reference to an initiative by Scott and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) that gave tax incentives for investment in roughly 8,800 underserved and impoverished communities — rechristened “Opportunity Zones” across the US.
A provision based on the idea was included in the 2017 tax cuts, which spurred private investments of more than $75 billion in underserved communities in its first two years.
Scott also patted himself on the back for the initiative during Monday’s announcement, claiming that it “created high employment, low inflation, and fast wage growth for the working class.”
“I was a lead author of the Republican tax reform that slashed taxes for families, brought jobs and investment back from overseas, and created Opportunity Zones to inject private dollars into communities that have been left behind,” he said. “That was one bill. Imagine what we’ll do with an entire agenda.”
Trump issued an executive order in 2020 encouraging federal agencies to prioritize moving their offices to the opportunity zones.
President Biden canceled Trump’s executive order on Feb. 16, bowing to left-wingers who criticized the idea for allegedly promoting gentrification. Instead, Biden has pushed for more “equity” programs in underserved communities, signing an executive order the same day to “strengthen racial equity and support for underserved communities.”
“This Administration has taxed, borrowed, and spent trillions of dollars trying to replace a hand up with handouts,” Scott said during his campaign announcement Monday. “All they bought us was crushing inflation that has devastated families like mine.”