Republican presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott appeared on ABC's "The View" on Monday to respond to criticism from the program's co-hosts over whether systemic racism is an issue in America.
Scott had been promoting his appearance on the show in remarks and in fundraising emails, writing in one, "I'm sure it's going to be exciting television!" and in another, "Watch out, Whoopi [Goldberg]."
He and "The View" co-hosts found themselves at odds over whether systemic racism -- policies throughout society that disadvantage a whole group -- is a problem.
When pressed by co-host Sunny Hostin to give his own definition of systemic racism, or whether he even believes that it exists, Scott said, "One of the things I think about, and one of the reasons why I'm on this show, is because of the comments that were made, frankly, on this show that the only way for a young African American kid to be successful in this country is to be the exception and not the rule."
Scott appeared to have been referring to comments co-host Joy Behar made on "The View" on May 23.
Behar, who did not appear on Monday's show, had criticized Scott's views on systemic racism.
"He's one of these guys who -- you know, he's like Clarence Thomas, [a] Black Republican who believes in pulling yourself by the bootstraps, rather than -- to me -- understanding the systemic racism that African Americans face in this country, and [faced by] other minorities. He doesn't get it. Neither does Clarence. And that's why they're Republicans," Behar said.
On Monday's program, Scott called her comments "disgusting."
"That is a dangerous, offensive, disgusting message to send to our young people today, that the only way to succeed is by being the exception ... I'm gonna suggest the fact of the matter is that progress in America is palpable," Scott said, noting the success of prominent Black politicians and TV hosts.
"I think people are hungry for something hopeful and optimistic," Scott said at the beginning of the discussion in response to a question from co-host Alyssa Farah Griffin on how he might try to win over those who supported former President Donald Trump.
"I believe America could do for anyone what she's done for me: restoring hope, creating opportunities, and defending and protecting the America that we love, it's such an important combination."
While the discussion did not touch often on specific policy, Scott reiterated his support for school choice. "One of the ways that we can restore hope in this country is to focus on our education system. We have too many kids in poor zip codes trapped in failing schools. I want parents to have a choice so kids have a bigger chance," Scott said.
Scott also drew parallels and contrasts between himself and fellow Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Co-host Ana Navarro asked Scott about bills in state legislatures, particularly Florida, targeting LGBTQ issues and drag events, and asked Scott if he felt Republicans were going too far on those issues.
The ensuing discussion also touched upon Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' feud with the Walt Disney Company -- the parent company of ABC News -- over the company's opposition to a bill introduced in Florida that restricts discussions in schools on gender and sexuality. Critics have called the law the "don't say gay" bill and say it harms LGBTQ youth.
"I don't think that Republicans are going too far on some of the issues that you're underlining… Disney and Ron have been in a combat zone for a number of months over what I thought was the right issue, as it relates to our young kids and what they're being indoctrinated with," Scott said, echoing right-wing claims that a focus on LGBTQ issues in schools is a form of indoctrination. "I thought he [Desantis] started off on the right foot on that issue."
Scott then faced boos from the studio audience, after which "The View" co-host Whoopi Goldberg told audience members they cannot boo people on "The View" and should hear out opinions.
Scott did implicitly criticize DeSantis for going after a corporation, saying he believes people can exercise First Amendment rights to protest corporations with which they disagree.
The South Carolina senator, who entered the presidential race last month, has been trying to draw a contrast between himself and other candidates with an optimistic tone and by touting his personal story.
He joined other candidates over the weekend at the 'Roast and Ride' event hosted by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, in Des Moines.
ABC News' Caroline Curran contributed to this report.
Sen. Tim Scott responds to 'The View' co-hosts' criticism on systemic racism originally appeared on abcnews.go.com