A leading backer of Tim Scott's White House campaign says the senator's team 'fundamentally miscalculated what it means to run for president' amid sagging polls and Nikki Haley's gains

  • Sen. Tim Scott's presidential campaign, once seen as emerging force, has faltered in recent weeks.

  • Scott has sought to offer an optimistic message to voters, but Trump remains on top in the GOP race.

  • The rise of fellow South Carolinian Nikki Haley has also complicated Scott's path to the nomination.

When Sen. Tim Scott launched his presidential campaign in May, he sought to project a positive conservative message among a field of candidates angling to take on former President Donald Trump in the GOP primary.

The South Carolina lawmaker, who is often praised by his GOP peers in the Senate, emerged from his campaign kickoff as someone who could credibly appeal to both evangelical conservatives and Main Street Republicans.

Over the course of Scott's campaign, his campaign has so far focused heavily on winning the Iowa caucuses, and during the summer he was seemingly clipping at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' second-place status behind Trump.

But in recent weeks, Scott's polling numbers have faltered in Iowa and Republicans not aligned with Trump are increasingly looking to former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as perhaps their best bet to challenge the former president's supremacy in the GOP race.

And some of Scott's supporters and friends are clearly taking notice of the shift.

A leading Scott backer, who spoke to Politico anonymously, remarked that the senator's campaign team "fundamentally miscalculated what it means to run for president and generate news coverage."

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who has not endorsed Scott's White House campaign but encouraged him to jump into the race, told Politico that his GOP colleague was a "spokesman" for a "Reagan, hopeful, optimistic message."

Cornyn conceded that Scott has so far not broken through with GOP voters, a major dilemma as the Iowa caucuses are less than three months away.

"I'm disappointed, because he's such a terrific guy and has got a great message," the Texan told the outlet.

While candidates like Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy have been able to move the needle among voters with their most recent debate appearances, Scott's first performance wasn't very buzzy among party leaders and observers.

The presence of Haley in the race has also severely complicated Scott's path to the nomination.

With both candidates hailing from South Carolina, they've both been in direct competition for influential donors in the state, as well as GOP voters who are intimately familiar with their individual records.

Haley appointed Scott to the Senate when she served as governor, and the two have largely refrained from attacking each other in a major way.

But Haley has seen her polling numbers rise both nationally and in the key early-voting state of New Hampshire, and she consistently leads Scott among GOP voters in the lion's share of South Carolina primary polls.

Meanwhile, Scott has also had to contend with the Trump and DeSantis operations in Iowa. The former president has been disciplined about visiting the Hawkeye State despite his longstanding polling advantage in the state, and DeSantis has basically gone all-in his efforts to win the caucuses in January.

It remains unclear if Scott will qualify for the third GOP debate in November — which could give him a much-needed jolt — as he still needs to meet the Republican National Committee-mandated threshold of 70,000 donors before the event.

However, campaign spokesman Nathan Brand told Politico that the senator "will be on the debate stage in Miami."

Read the original article on Business Insider