Scott’s remarks follow former Vice President Mike Pence’s scathing rebuke over the weekend of “voices of appeasement” in the GOP, serving to widen the rift in the Republican presidential primary between the party’s more isolationist and engagement-oriented wings.
“American courage and American values are not in decline,” Scott said, as he endorsed a whole-of-government response to supporting Israel.
Currently at issue in Scott’s day job at the Capitol is continued military assistance funding for Ukraine, which a considerable number of conservative Republicans in the House have firmly opposed.
Scott leveled several attacks at progressive Democrats and Biden over the violence in the Middle East, claiming that the president has “blood on his hands,” and that his weakness “invited the attack.”
But Scott’s direct criticism of his GOP rivals represents a change of tactics for the senator, who has for months generally refrained from directly criticizing his opponents. It is also a shift for a senator who has spent his Senate tenure on committees with a mostly domestic focus.
In a statement to POLITICO, Ramaswamy’s campaign said he would defend Taiwan and criticized the status quo “One China” policy, in which the U.S. recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China while retaining unofficial ties with Taiwan.
“We understand Tim Scott is attempting to gain some semblance of relevance in this race, but lying in the face of these barbaric atrocities isn’t an effective way to do so,” spokesperson Tricia McLaughlin said. “Vivek has offered a clear, rational response that supports Israel while avoiding another U.S.-led disaster in the Middle East.”
The DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Scott has largely failed to gain traction in a race dominated by former President Donald Trump.
Since Hamas attacked Israel over the weekend, Scott has repeatedly criticized Biden for being too weak and called for unstinting American support to Israel. He has joined calls for the president to refreeze a $6 billion funds package that his administration greenlit in a deal involving the release of Iranian prisoners. He met with Michael Herzog, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., shortly before his remarks.
Notably missing from his jabs were Trump — who has repeatedly mentioned that he supports withholding Ukraine aid in many circumstances — and his home-state competitor, Nikki Haley, the former U.N. ambassador who has been ticking up in recent polls.
Scott, unlike Trump, DeSantis, Ramaswamy and Haley, has yet to qualify for the third primary debate, scheduled for the beginning of November, according to POLITICO analysis. Trump has already said he will skip the event, as he did for the first two.