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The Buzz: Could SC solve Trump’s diversity problem?

SC State House
SC State House tdominick@thestate.com

Donald Trump could find a South Carolina fix for his “serious demographic challenge,” pundits say.

Yes, Gov. Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s first Indian-American and first female governor, voluntarily removed herself from the running to be Donald Trump’s running mate after the New York billionaire became the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. (Still, a Rasmussen poll taken about a week after Haley bowed out showed that 9 percent of GOP voters wanted her in the VP spot anyway.) Now, however, another prominent S.C. Republican’s name has come up.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-North Charleston, would be “one of the few plausible picks,” according to a “Veepstakes” report brought to Rasmussen by the prognosticators from Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

As the first African-American U.S. senator from the South since Reconstruction, Scott could help Trump address his “serious demographic challenge owing to his awful ratings among nonwhite voters, who could make up 30 percent or so of the electorate in 2016,” the Crystal Ballers from the University of Virginia wrote.

With U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio out of the picture, “there aren’t many options to counter this problem for Trump, even to the limited extent that a running mate could address that issue.”

Whether Scott would accept a Trump offer is another question.

Asked late Friday, Scott’s campaign spokesperson said the senator is focused only on representing S.C. residents and winning re-election this fall.

But, in February, Scott criticized Trump for not immediately condemning the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke after the white supremacist and former KKK grand wizard endorsed him.

If Scott could overlook that – and any other follies the once-Rubio enthusiast sees in the presumptive nominee – Trump would be lucky to have Scott as a running mate, said Columbia GOP political consultant Luke Byars, who has done some fundraising work for the senator.

“He’s developed a reputation outside of South Carolina as a bridge builder and a conservative consensus builder,” Byars said. “He’s very well respected and very well liked. ... If he were to get asked, I’m sure he would give it serious consideration.”

Byars said he was surprised Scott’s name hasn’t come up sooner, but that’s likely because the senator “doesn’t seek the limelight. He’d be more at home doing charity work back in South Carolina, hanging out with his family.”

Not exactly the style Trump has intoned with his reality-TV and campaign-stump celebrity.

Nevertheless, Scott “would be a great balance for the ticket,” Byars said with “tongue firmly planted in cheek.”

Haley heads for higher ground

Republican Haley’s latest political battleship may have sunk swiftly – and overwhelmingly – last week, when the GOP-controlled Legislature deep-sixed her veto of $40 million in flood aid to farmers who lost crops in October’s historic torrents.

But Haley still has plenty of political capital – enough to lift her up and away from her critics in South Carolina’s waterlogged peanut-farmer gallery.

Last Tuesday, Haley campaigned in Richmond alongside Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman who has helped recruit minorities to run down ballot.

The previous Friday, Haley spoke on the “New South” at Tennessee Republicans’ annual dinner in Nashville.

(The Buzz wonders if the Tennesseans asked Haley where the angry farmers fit in her definition of a new South.)

Buzz Bite

A Day of Remembrance. On Wednesday, the S.C. Legislative Black Caucus is holding a “Day of Remembrance, A Day of Celebration” at the State House – less than a month before the one-year anniversary of a gunman entering Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church and slaying nine African-American parishioners. The event starts with a prayer meeting under the dome at 2 p.m., following the election of a new state Supreme Court chief justice. At 4 p.m., a portrait of Democratic state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, a pastor who was slain while leading a Bible study at his church, will be unveiled.

Tweet of the week

From S.C. political operative Phil Bailey @PhilBaileySC on lawmakers voting to override Haley’s veto of aid for flooded farmers: “Be on the look out for the 5 S.C. lawmakers who voted against farmers this week. All spotted in this car,” a small, yellow minicar shown.

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