Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said Wednesday night he doesn’t agree with President Donald Trump’s view on America’s racial history, but appreciated his willingness to talk about it.
Scott discussed Trump’s comments on the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last August, while speaking at the Young Americans for Freedom 40th annual National Conservative Student Conference in Washington, D.C. Scott previously said that Trump can be racially insensitive to CNN’s Don Lemon in April.
“The President and I did not see eye to eye on the racial history of our country. What I thought what was powerful, the president of the United States, after being criticized for comments that he made, was graceful enough to invite me to the White House, into the Oval Office, to have a serious conversation on race,” Scott said. “I did not assume that a 30 minute conversation with someone could change the way they saw the world.”
Scott did commend Trump for his “willingness to listen”and said that “was powerful.”
“It empowered me to have a conversation with the President of the United States. While we did not get to the same side, come to the same conclusion, he asked me a question. He said, ‘Tim? What can I do to improve the lives of the people you are trying to defend?'”
Scott also brought up his “Opportunity Zones,” which he argued would bring more private sector investment into distressed communities, especially in inner cities and rural communities that have yet to recover from the Great Recession. Opportunity Zones are essentially a public-private partnership, where, in exchange for a lower-capital gains rate, investors are encouraged to put those unused dollars into investing in low-income communities.
“Today that legislation is law and today there are billions of dollars, literally, targeting distressed communities, because the President was willing to have that conversation, even though we did not come to the same conclusion,” Scott finished.
It was not the only question about race that Scott received. Another student asked why Scott and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida torpedoed the nomination of Assistant U.S Attorney for Oregon Ryan Bounds to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Trump had nominated Bounds to fulfill the vacancy of Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, who had assumed senior status. (RELATED: Trump 9th Circuit Nominee Tanks As Scott, Rubio Join With Democrats To Oppose Him)
Bounds was criticized for his college writings by various senators for referencing racial organizations on college campuses as “ethnic hoedowns” and his opposition to colleges lowering the standard of proof to punish students accused of sexual assault, according to Oregon Live. Bounds apologized for his writings.
Scott said he did not oppose Bounds’ nomination because of his college writings, but because he could not show Scott how he had evolved and become more self-aware of his “blinders.”
“I believe we all have blinders. Being self-aware is critical, so when I’m thinking about putting somebody on a lifetime bench, I want to know if you’re at least self-aware enough to know where your blinders are,” Scott said.
Scott said Bounds flew in to Washington, D.C. to meet with him to discuss the issues, but Bounds did not have any evolution in his thinking and had not adequately answered Scott’s concerns about engaging with people who are not white.
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