Tea Party's Scott: I'm Not 'The Black Republican'

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - The Tea Party may be getting the lion's share of political headlines these days, but it's not the only big story on the horizon.

In South Carolina, Tim Scott is trying to become the first black Republican ever elected to the House of Representatives from his state. The Charleston, S.C., native is also an active member of the Tea Party movement and a born again Christian.

"If I'm blessed to win, God willing, I'm working more on building the anchor below the surface so that when you pull on it, when you tug on it - it is rooted in something real: The Rock," he said.

At a monthly Tea Party gathering hosted by the Carolina Patriots group in Myrtle Beach, Scott told CBN News he likes to take shots at the newly passed healthcare reform law.

"Obamacare. Get rid of it. Period," Scott said.

A True Blue Conservative

Scott is quick to point out that he is a Republican who happens to be black. But more than anything, he's a true blue conservative who loves to talk discipline - fiscal and otherwise.

"My mother was a disciplinarian. She taught me that love comes at the end of a switch, and she was so in love with me she used it consistently," Scott told members of the Carolina Patriots.

"She was teaching me something that America needs to know today in desperate ways: That discipline is a major key to the breakthrough," he said.

That discipline, according to Scott, starts with reducing the deficit and limiting the role of government. That was his message when he spoke to health professionals at a recent event in Charleston.

"Should a government bureaucrat make the decisions on healthcare or should a healthcare provider make the decisions on healthcare?" Scott asked the crowd.

Scott's message resonates in the heavily Republican district, which stretches hundreds of miles from Charleston to Myrtle Beach. That means spending a lot of time in the car.

"This is our campaign office without any question," Scott said.

All that driving seems to be paying off: the polls show Scott way ahead of his opponents even though some think they can still win.

"I understand he is the favored candidate, but his hold on the race is getting smaller and smaller," said Rob Groce, candidate for the Working Families Party.

Chick-fil-A Conversion

Scott's life story does not start out very well. He grew up in poverty in Charleston and was raised by a single mom who worked 16 hours a day. In 9th grade, he failed four subjects and almost flunked out of high school.

But then he walked into a Chick-fil-A restaurant, and his life changed forever.

As a 14-year-old working part-time at the movie theater, Scott said he was always, "buying french fries over there at Chick-fil-A because I couldn't afford the Chick-fil-A sandwich."

While he was there, he met John Moniz, a born again Christian who took an interest in young Tim.

"John started teaching me the basic principles of conservatism and capitalism, which was amazing because he did it in a spiritual perspective. He led with love," Scott told CBN News.

Those conversations led to better grades and a sense of purpose. The Christian witnessing continued with Scott's friend Roger.

"No matter what day it was, he was always happy," Scott recalled. "And I said 'Roger why are you happy?' And Roger was like 'Jesus is Lord.' And I'm like 'I got it but what else?'"

Scott found the answer to that question at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting in college where he made the personal decision to give his life to Jesus Christ.

"I just dove into the scriptures and started memorizing different scriptures and started becoming as much as possible a part of the scripture. I wanted it to be grafted into my heart," Scott explained.

Scriptures and Policy

Scott not only grafted scripture into his heart but into his public policy, too. At the Myrtle Beach Tea Party meeting, he wove Bible references in where appropriate.

"Ethics reform, according to the Book of James, is at a higher level for leaders and I think it should be," he said.

Fifteen years ago as a city councilman, Scott tried to put a 10 Commandments plaque outside the council offices, but a circuit court judge stopped that plan.

"It was really giving God an opportunity to be seen and to be heard in the public forum based on the history of our country," Scott said.

Racism and the Tea Party

The history of America also carries the stain of racism. While the media plays up allegations of racism in the Tea Party movement, Scott says he hasn't seen it.

"I have yet to find the first racist comment or the first person who approaches me from a racist perspective," he said.

Carolina Patriot members like Ralph Billeter say they don't pay attention to the color of a candidate's skin.

"Frankly, I don't care if he's black or white," Billeter said. "What I care about is how does he vote."

Scott is supported by the newly formed South Carolina Black Conservative Movement. They believe black conservatives need to speak with a loud voice.

"There's not going to be an opportunity for anybody in this country - black, white, whatever - if we don't get America moving," member Charles Early told CBN News.

"And we're not going to get it moving by the government taking more and more control," Early said. "We need to get out of government's control, out of government's hands and into God's hands."

'I'm Not the Black Republican'

Scott made it clear that should he make it to Washington, he won't be the "the black Republican."

"I'm going to be a Republican who happens to be black - who will talk about issues that I'm passionate about," he said.

His constituents will be watching to make sure he doesn't just talk the talk, but walks the walk. At that recent Tea Party meeting in Myrtle Beach, one member told Scott, "I want you to do what you said you're going to do for us because we will be watching."

Scott said he knows that God is watching, too.

"There is nothing special about Tim Scott," Scott said. "I'm an ordinary guy serving an extraordinary God - and that makes the difference."

*Originally aired on Sept. 28, 2010.

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David Brody

David Brody

CBN News Chief Political Correspondent

David Brody is an Emmy Award-winning veteran news journalist who has interviewed many prominent national figures during his career of nearly 25 years. Currently, David covers the White House and interviews national newsmakers across the country.  Follow David on Twitter @TheBrodyFile and "like" him at Facebook.com/TheBrodyFile.