• Associated Press

Tim Scott will Endorse Donald Trump ahead of New Hampshire Republican Primary, AP Source Says

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks in front of President Donald Trump during a campaign rally, Feb. 28, 2020, in North Charleston, S.C.

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina is expected to endorse former President Donald Trump ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, a blow to his fellow South Carolinian Nikki Haley, the former U.N. ambassador.

A person familiar with Scott’s plans confirmed Friday to The Associated Press that Scott was expected to travel from Florida to New Hampshire with the GOP front-runner. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity due to not being allowed to discuss the plans publicly. The endorsement was first reported by The New York Times.

Scott last May launched his own bid to challenge Trump before shuttering his effort about six months later, having had trouble gaining traction in the polls despite millions invested by high-profile donors.

In his efforts to run a positive campaign, Scott was often overshadowed by other candidates — particularly on the debate stage, where he seemed to disappear as others sparred.

Trump has been appearing on the campaign trail with several other former rivals who have endorsed him, including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

Unlike those two, however, who were more reticent to critique Trump as they ran against him, Scott was at times critical of the former president during his own campaign.

In Concord, supporters waited hours in 17-degree weather, snaking through a dark hotel parking lot, to see Trump in person Friday evening.

Among them was Nancy Catano, a 72-year-old part-time schoolteacher who spent three hours in the frigid cold and was thrilled to learn about Scott’s planned endorsement.

“Oh awesome. I love him. That’s wonderful,” she said. “That’s going to be wonderful. That’s great support for him.”

Catano said it was notable that former Trump rivals were now rallying around him as the front-runner. “So they’re realizing that we need to unite to win. We have to win,” she said.

She said she has zero doubt Trump will be the nominee at this point.

“I think Tuesday is gonna be an exciting day,” she said. “He wiped out Iowa and I’m expecting the same here in New Hampshire.”

There has been speculation that Scott could potentially be a running mate option for Trump, should the former president win the GOP nomination. When Scott entered the race in May, Trump welcomed his latest competitor with open arms, wishing him “good luck” with hospitality that some suggested was an acknowledgment that Trump saw an increased number of competitors beneficial to his own bid.

Scott’s endorsement was sought by the remaining major contenders in the Republican primary, particularly ahead of South Carolina’s Feb. 24 primary, which has historically been influential in determining the eventual nominee.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who placed just ahead of Haley in Iowa’s caucuses this week, has been shifting his campaign resources from Iowa to South Carolina. He planned to stump in the state on Saturday, aiming to continue his effort to take on Haley — who has been pinning much of her early-states campaign on New Hampshire — directly in her home state.

Haley appointed Scott to the Senate in 2012. On Friday, a spokesperson for her campaign downplayed Scott’s impending endorsement of Trump.

“Interesting that Trump’s lining up with all the Washington insiders when he claimed he wanted to drain the swamp,” Olivia Perez-Cubas said. “But the fellas are gonna do what the fellas are gonna do.”