South Carolina’s junior senator admits Donald Trump is not who he would prefer running as the Republican nominee in this year’s presidential election. But US Sen. Tim Scott told a Greenwood radio statio Thursday that Trump is the party’s nominee and that anyone who does not vote for the Republican is effectively voting for Hillary Clinton as president.
Scott told SC Radio Network’s Greenwood affiliate WCRS that this is a “binary choice” for president. “There are only two choices in this election: you are either with Hillary or you’re not,” he told talk show host Anne Eller. “And if you are not, Donald Trump — pimples and all, challenges and all — is the only alternative. There’s not another alternative.”
AUDIO: Sen. Scott’s interview with WCRS in Greenwood (17:18)
Although he did not name Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson specifically, Scott’s message appeared to be aimed at those dissatisfied Republicans who are considering a vote for the former Republican New Mexico governor. Polls have shown Johnson is pulling around 10 percent support nationwide, much of it from conservatives unhappy with Trump.
South Carolina Democrats have tried to use Scott’s support of Trump against him in a Senate reelection bid this fall, linking the senator to controversial comments made by the New York businessman. “Donald Trump continues to show that there is no line he will not cross in his vile attacks and wanton bigotry. Yet the vast majority of South Carolina Republican so-called leaders—including… Tim Scott — … still think he should be president,” the state Democratic Party said in an email.
Scott’s fellow US Sen. Lindsey Graham reiterated Thursday that he will not vote for Trump or Clinton. During an appearance on CNN, Graham would not say who is supporting beyond that he would vote this fall. However, he offered Trump unsolicited advice: stop making personal attacks on rivals, particularly other Republicans, and focus on criticism of Clinton and President Obama.
“The polls should be a wakeup call to Mr. Trump,” Sen. Graham said. He’s losing to a person who people believe is a liar. He’s losing to a person that people don’t trust… I can give you a million reasons why I’m not supporting Hillary Clinton. That’s easy for a Republican. But, at the end of the day, Mr. Trump’s temperament and judgment is what people find lacking in him.”
Scott agreed during his Thursday interview that Trump has been undermining his own message. He even admitted preferring another type of candidate, but said the choice between Trump and Clinton was stark. “I would love to have a choice between a superior candidate and one who represents the wrong direction,” he continued. “And Donald Trump can be a better candidate. But he’s going to have to focus on the issues and not personal attacks.”
WCRS’s Anne Eller contributed to this report