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Sen. Tim Scott pushed back against continuing outrageous comments accusing Republicans of using him as a “token” in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
The South Carolina lawmaker, who has long been vocal about matters of racial injustice, hurled fiery responses on social media in defense of his record and slammed those questioning his role in leading the Senate Republican charge on police reform. On Thursday, NBC’s Craig Melvin joined the chorus and asked him about being “used” by his party.
(Source: NBC News)
“Senator, you have faced a fair amount of criticism, especially over the past few days, because you are the only black Republican senator, some have said that your party is using you, they’ve even thrown around the word ‘token,’ as well. Your response to that criticism?” NBC’s “Today” show co-host asked.
“Well, I am also the only person in my conference who has been racially profiled driving while black,” Scott replied.
“I’m the only one in my conference that’s been stopped seven times in one year as an elected official, perhaps the only one in my conference wearing this Senate pin that was stopped from coming into the building,” he pointed out.
“So if there’s someone in the conference who understands discrimination and profiling, it’s me. It’s the reason why I asked to lead this charge, because it is a personal issue, it is the right issue. And frankly, I think it helps to have someone who’s been a victim of this situation and who still has a tremendous respect for where our country can go together,” Scott added.
“So I shrug those comments and criticisms off,” he told Melvin.
“But you’ve got to know, when you’re a black Republican, you’re like a unicorn. People are going to criticize you when you wake up, when you go to sleep, if you say you like apple pie and football, there’s a lot of critics for that, too,” he said. “So God bless their souls.”
The South Carolina senator was tasked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with leading efforts to draft legislation on police reform and has taken heat for it. McConnell told CNN Thursday that Scott “was a major player on criminal justice reform, one of our most respected members.”
“And also he has experienced directly — as recently as his time in the Senate — the kind of discrimination we have seen on full display across the country,” the Kentucky lawmaker added.
Scott fired back at critics on Twitter, dismissing claims that he was “being used” as a “token” by the GOP.
Not surprising the last 24 hours have seen a lot of “token” “boy” or “you’re being used” in my mentions. Let me get this straight…you DON’T want the person who has faced racial profiling by police, been pulled over dozens of times, or been speaking out for YEARS drafting this?
— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) June 10, 2020
And don’t throw “you’re the only black guy they know” at me either. There are only two black Democratic Senators, stop pretending there’s some huge racial diversity gap in the Senate. Ask my Dem colleagues what their staffs look like…I guarantee you won’t like the answer.
— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) June 10, 2020
During his “Today” show interview Thursday, Scott was asked by co-host Al Roker about the renewed push to remove confederate statues and symbols, attempting to get the senator to criticize President Trump in the process. But Scott deftly turned the narrative.
“I’d like to spend as much energy about monuments – that is an important conversation – I’d love to spend an equal amount of energy talking about school choice and public and charter schools,” he said. “I’d love to spend more time talking about issues that make a better future, as much as we are looking in the past.”
Scott also shut down Melvin as he attempted to slam Senate Republicans just as he was wrapping up the segment.
“Alright, we didn’t get a chance to talk about the anti-lynching component, but we’ll bring you back….you guys couldn’t get that passed last week. We can’t even get U.S. Senators to agree on what constitutes lynching,” Melvin said.
“Well, actually, that’s not accurate,” Scott fired back.
“We have already passed this legislation twice in the Senate… There is a debate on the floor, but that is an inconsistent and inaccurate statement. We passed it in the Senate, I hope that the House would just take up our bill and pass it,” he explained.
“In the House bill, they actually have the exact legislation that we passed in the Senate. I think we’ll get it done if we can come to the same table….that bill has already been passed. So I think we should focus on getting this done, because it is so important to our country, after 200 failures on anti-lynching, we’re right at the goal line,” he said. “I hope we get it across the line.”
“Alright, I didn’t mean to get in the weeds there with you, Senator,” Melvin quipped. “For a second there, it was starting to feel like MSNBC, instead of NBC.”
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