Sen. Tim Scott announces he's dropping out of 2024 presidential race

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Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina announced Sunday he is dropping out of the 2024 presidential race.

Scott announced the unexpected decision, just two months shy of the Iowa caucuses, on Fox News' "Sunday Night In America with Trey Gowdy." His departure from the GOP race followed the abrupt cancellation of all his campaign stops in Iowa this weekend after he came down with the flu.

"I'm looking forward to getting back on the campaign trail without question. But when I go back to Iowa, it will not be as a presidential candidate. I am suspending my campaign," Scott told Fox News on Sunday.

Moments before Scott made his announcement, his campaign shared a fundraising email, asking voters to "contribute this weekend and support Tim in reaching his campaign goal."

"I think the voters, who have been the most remarkable people on the planet, have been really clear. They're telling me 'not now, Tim,'" Scott told Gowdy.

Scott said he currently has no intentions of endorsing another candidate. When questioned about the possibility of becoming a running mate, he stated, "I ran for president to be president. Being vice president has never been on my to-do list for this campaign."

Sources familiar with the campaign revealed that the announcement took many of Scott's staff members aback.

He made the announcement live on Fox News, then immediately held a call with his surprised campaign staff to inform them of his decision.

"It was a shock to nearly everyone on the campaign and most people found out in real time," one Scott campaign aide told CBS News.

A senior source close to Scott told CBS News, "Republicans are not ready yet for an optimistic conservative," adding, "He's a good guy; came into the race as a good guy and will leave as a good guy. His standing only improved. That's hard to do these days."

Scott shifted resources to Iowa as campaign sputtered

In recent months, Scott's campaign faced challenges gaining momentum. He narrowly met the qualifications for the third Republican debate just days before the deadline.

And despite logging the most speaking time among the candidates on stage, Scott's most viral moment occurred post-debate when voters were introduced to his previously undisclosed girlfriend for the first time.

In a recent CBS News/YouGov poll, Scott was only commanding consideration from about 4% of voters, putting him in a distant fifth place behind the frontrunner, former President Donald Trump.

Scott's decision to suspend his campaign comes in the wake of a substantial overhaul to his campaign strategy.

Last month, the candidate declared a strategic shift toward Iowa, doubling campaign staff in the Hawkeye state and vowing to visit every week leading up to the first caucus. The candidate said his efforts were meant to secure vital ground in the upcoming Republican primary.

Largely relying on his faith to court Iowans, the senator repeatedly stated that his campaign was "in it for the long haul," even after Trust in the Mission PAC, a super PAC that had supported Scott's campaign, decided to pull $40 million in TV ad spending for the candidate.

"We are doing what would be obvious in the business world but will mystify politicos — we aren't going to waste our money when the electorate isn't focused or ready for a Trump alternative," Rob Collins, co-chair of the super PAC, wrote at the time.

Despite facing challenges in polling, the candidate demonstrated fundraising strength, outpacing many 2024 GOP presidential contenders. Besides Trump, Scott boasts the most available cash on hand, totaling approximately $13.3 million, according to data from the Federal Elections Commission.

Republican candidates respond

Scott's Republican rivals immediately took to X, the website formerly known as Twitter, to wish the senator well following his announcement.

Former U.N. ambassador and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley wrote, "Tim Scott is a good man of faith and an inspiration to so many. The Republican primary was made better by his participation in it. South Carolina is blessed to continue to have him as our senator."

Also commending Scott for his leadership in the Senate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wrote, "Tim Scott is a strong conservative with bold ideas about how to get our country back on track. I respect his courage to run this campaign and thank him for his service to America and the U.S. Senate. I look forward to Tim continuing to be a leader in our party for years to come."

In a more playful tone while taking a shot at Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy wrote, "Tim Scott strikes me as a good dude. I gave @SenatorTimScott a congratulatory 👊 on stage when the other South Carolinian shamelessly copied *exactly* what he said. Wishing Tim all the best back in the U.S. Senate. I'm hopeful we can convince him that more Ukraine aid is an awful idea for America…looked like he was slowly coming around last week, I was glad to see it."

Former N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, who's in Israel, wrote, ""Tim Scott is my friend. He was before, during and now after this race for President had concluded for him. @votetimscott is a man of integrity and honesty. Our country is better for his service in the United States Senate."

"I have always been a fan of Tim Scott. His departure from the race is a surprise and America will miss his hopeful message on our future. Despite our challenges, I share his optimistic view of our country and I will work hard to earn the support of his voters,"  Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson wrote.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum wrote, "Anyone who has the courage to stand in the arena deserves our gratitude. @votetimscott. Fought for the best of America. Kathryn and I wish nothing but the best for Tim!"

Former Vice President Mike Pence, the first of the GOP candidates to suspend his campaign, wrote, "Senator Tim Scott is a man of faith and integrity who brought his optimistic vision and inspiring personal story to people all across this country and he is my friend. I join millions in thanking @votetimscott for his principled leadership past, present and future and wish him every blessing as he continues to serve South Carolina and America for many years to come."

Trump did not immediately comment on Scott's decision to suspend his campaign.

-- Cristina Corujo, Nidia Cavazos, Aaron Navarro and Jake Rosen contributed reporting.

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