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Scott and Gowdy plan forums in SC presidential primary season

Mary Troyan - Greenville News Washington Bureau
February 18, 2015


Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Trey Gowdy, both Republicans, will team up to host likely GOP presidential candidates in a series of town halls around
South Carolina this year.

The joint events make Scott and Gowdy — who are close personal friends and politically aligned — key voices in the nation’s first Southern primary.

The first-term senator from the Lowcountry and the third-term congressman from the Upstate say their events are designed to give South Carolina Republicans a chance to see presidential hopefuls up close.

“This is a serious opportunity for all the candidates who want to engage voters in South Carolina, and we hope to be a conduit for them to have that audience,” Scott said Tuesday.
Potential presidential hopefuls are taking notice.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s political action committee recently announced that its first round of donations included the maximum contributions to the re-election campaigns of Scott and Gowdy. And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal appeared at a school-choice forum that Scott hosted on Capitol Hill earlier this month.

Gowdy, whose national profile has been elevated by his chairmanship of a special House committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya, has spoken with many of the potential candidates as well.

Scott said the town halls he and Gowdy will host should start in the next couple of months. South Carolina’s primary is one year away.

“This just shows how much South Carolina matters — that’s the important part,” Scott said.

Although they’ll co-host the town halls, Scott and Gowdy have different views of their individual roles leading up to the primary. Gowdy doesn’t plan to endorse a candidate, while Scott is vetting all the candidates and plans to announce a preference before the primary.

“I want to see how the candidates perform and the issues they will fight for,” Scott said. “I want to make sure they are talking about the average person in America and South Carolina.”

Scott did not endorse in the 2012 contest but said this cycle is different. He’s got his eye on domestic issues like poverty and education, especially school choice.

“I’m very comfortable with the format and I understand what I’m looking for,” Scott said. “I think I’m in the best position to analyze which candidate ... offers hope to the average person.”

Bush’s Right to Rise PAC on Friday showered $122,800 on candidates and parties in several early voting states. The PAC’s announcement, was a show of fundraising strength but also a sign Bush is focusing on potential opinion leaders in those states.
Scott and Gowdy, who are up for re-election in 2016, each received $5,200 from Bush’s PAC. The South Carolina Republican Party received $10,000, as well as $5,000 each from PACs affiliated with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Gowdy, who lives in Spartanburg, was re-elected in 2014 with 85 percent of the vote over a libertarian candidate. Scott won his first statewide election in November with 61 percent of the vote over the Democratic nominee. He replaced Sen. Jim DeMint, who resigned.


Read more here: South Carolina The State


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