Some voters and strategists pan Tim Scott's debate performance

 August 27, 2023

South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott was among those who appeared last week at the GOP's first presidential primary debate.

However, while Scott's performance was far from being catastrophic, a recent New York Times report suggests that some voters at a diner in Concord, New Hampshire were less than impressed. 

Scott's answers described as "brief"

They included 57-year old Allyson Vaschon, who told the newspaper on Friday that Scott "was one that I wanted to hear more from."

She said the debate's format did not work to Scott's advantage, remarking, "I did like some of his answers but they were brief, and again, time just wasn’t allotted."

The Times noted that Scott gave a "surprisingly brief" answer when asked how the president can restore religious faith in America despite the question being "aligned with his campaign message."

Scott quoted Scripture after recalling how the nation "was founded on the Judeo-Christian values." He added, "Our responsibility should be to model the behavior we want others to follow," and then addressed education reform, saying Republicans should "break the backs of the teachers' unions."

Strategist says Scott "didn't break through"

Eric Levine is an attorney and Republican donor who attended last Wednesday's debate as one of Scott’s guests, and he insisted that Scott was wise to avoid needless conflict.

Still, Levine acknowledged that "perhaps he could have been a little more aggressive," something the lawyer said had been voiced by other donors.

"I guess he made a little bit of a mistake in believing that rules matter," Levine said of how Scott would typically wait to be called on by moderators before speaking.

Republican strategist Gail Gitcho was somewhat less charitable, telling the Times, "Tim Scott is built for this race. He has the resources to go the distance. He has a life story unlike anybody else. But he didn’t break through."

Scott and voter clash over Trump

For his part, Scott appeared at the Concord diner where he clashed with 79-year-old independent voter and a former schoolteacher David Coffey over the candidate's willingness to criticize former President Donald Trump.

"You’re avoiding standing up for his past. You don’t want to lose all his votes — I get you. But when you go to Russia, when you go to China, how are you going to stand up and say, 'Hey, I can’t do that’?" Coffey told Scott.

When Scott said it would be "very easy" to "stand toe-to-toe" with hostile powers, Coffey countered that Scott is "not standing toe-to-toe with somebody who you don’t accept as president."


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