DES MOINES, Iowa – Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina – the only major Republican presidential candidate who’s never been married – spotlighted this weekend that he’s “dating a lovely Christian girl,” as he addressed a large group of influential voters of faith in the state that leads off the GOP nominating calendar.
Scott’s comments came as he and most of his rivals for the Republican nomination sat down for question and answer sessions Saturday at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual fall banquet, in front of a crowd of social conservative leaders, activists, and evangelical voters, who play an outsized role in Hawkeye State Republican politics.
“So other than your mama, is there any special lady in your life?” GOP Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird asked, in her first question to Scott.
The senator answered “yes,” before quipping “if you haven’t read about her yet, I’m sure why not. It’s been one of the more asked questions lately.”
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Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual fall banquet, on Sept. 16, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)
The 57-year-old Scott then shared that “I’m dating a lovely Christian girl. One of the things that I love about the gospel of Jesus Christ is that it points us always in the right direction. Proverbs 18:22 says ‘he who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the lord.’”
“So can we just pray together for me,” he emphasized, which elicited laughter from the audience.
Scott added that I’m very excited. Very excited.”
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“As a guy who was raised in a single-parent household mired in poverty, I understand that devastation when a family breaks up. I live with the consequences of a father who was not there. I made a commitment to make sure that never happened in my life,” Scott highlighted. “I’m so thankful to know a risen savior that has helped guide my way, and I’m so thankful that he’s allowed my life to intersect at the right time with the right person. And I just say, praise the living God.”
Scott has been reluctant to share much about his private life. In a handful of interviews earlier this year, he did reveal that he is dating a woman, but he kept her identity private.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, speaks at former Sen. Scott Brown’s No BS Backyard BBQ series, in Rye, New Hampshire, on Sept. 7, 2023 (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)
But his unmarried status has made headlines in recent weeks, in the wake of an article by Axios, which suggested some Republican donors are concerned about him being unmarried.
Although the number of adults who remain single later in life has edged up in recent years, many socially conservative Republicans firmly hold to traditional values regarding marriage and families.
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The Faith and Freedom gathering was held with four months to go until the Iowa caucuses. Among the top topics asked of the presidential candidates at the event was the combustible issue of abortion.
The blockbuster move last year by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to overturn the landmark nearly half-century-old Roe v. Wade ruling, which had allowed for legalized abortions nationwide, moved the divisive issue back to the states.
And it’s forced Republicans to play plenty of defense in elections across the country, as a party that’s nearly entirely “pro-life” has had to deal with an electorate where a majority of Americans support at least some form of abortion access.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, speaks at an Iowa Faith and Freedom fall banquet, on Sept. 16, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis highlighted that “I’m pro-life. I’ve been pro-life governor. I’ll be pro-life president.”
And he pledged that if elected to the White House, “I’m going to welcome pro-life policies across the board.”
But DeSantis, who signed a six-week abortion ban into law in Florida, would not share specifics on what he would do as president in terms of supporting a federal abortion ban.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who supports a 15-week abortion ban, shared that “it’s a matter of conviction. I believe that God has blessed the womb. That there’s life in the womb and its deserving of protection. That’s fundamental.”
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And Hutchinson, a vocal GOP critic of Donald Trump, criticized the former president for saying in a recent interview that he would “make both sides happy” when it comes to abortion.
Trump, who has not committed to supporting a federal ban, did not attend the Iowa gathering.
Former Vice President Mike Pence reiterated his support for a 15-week ban, saying that it’s an “idea whose time has come” and that “we owe it to the American people to elect a president who will fight for a minimum standard.”
Former ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley touted her “pro-life” credentials but repeated that without enough support in the Senate, passing such a ban is “not realistic.”
Hours earlier, in a Fox News Digital interview, Haley highlighted that “our goal is to save as many babies as we can. Support as many moms as we can. That’s the goal. So in order to do that, we have to have 60 Senate votes. Let’s see where that is but we only have 45 pro-life senators.”
“So let’s focus on what we do agree on,” she said. “Let’s ban late-term abortions. Let’s encourage adoptions. Let’s make sure contraceptives accessible. Let’s make sure that nurses and doctors who don’t believe abortion don’t have to perform them. And let’s make sure no state law requires a women to go to jail or get the death penalty for abortion. We’re talking about hard truths and women around the country agree with me.”
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Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.