'I don’t think he can win': Sen. Tim Scott says Trump isn't electable in 2024

It was the sharpest jab at Trump yet from the senator from South Carolina, who has long cultivated a "nice guy" image.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said in Iowa on Monday he doesn't think Trump can win in states like Georgia and Pennsylvania. Michael Dwyer / AP

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said Donald Trump doesn’t have what it takes to win a general election, the sharpest jab he has thrown at the former president and a clear rebuke of the electability of Trump, who continues to lead the 2024 Republican primary field.

Scott made the remark Monday night in response to a question from a voter who asked why she should no longer support Trump.  

“I don’t think he can win,” Scott said. “You have to be able to win in Georgia. I don’t think he can win in Georgia. I think you’ll have to be able to win in Pennsylvania.”

Scott also appeared to blame Trump for losses in Georgia’s 2021 runoff elections that cost the GOP control of the Senate when Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won. 

“Everybody remembers Jan. 6, 2020. But what we forget sometimes is Jan. 5,” Scott said. “We had two Republican seats on the ballot in Georgia. And the party told northern Georgians to stay home.”

After the Georgia results, many GOP strategists blamed Trump because he kept raising doubts about the integrity of the electoral system — sowing confusion about whether Republicans should even turn out to vote. 

Scott has also suggested in recent weeks that it’s time for the Republican Party to move on from Trump and has propped himself up as a more persuasive, and optimistic, alternative.

“We’ve lost three of the last national elections because negativity hasn’t worked,” Scott said Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” 

“We need a candidate who brings optimism,” he added, stopping short of naming Trump.  

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung took a shot at Scott’s standing in the race when he was asked for comment about his remarks. 

“We don’t respond to people polling at 1%,” Cheung said. 

Scott is hitting 2% in FiveThirtyEight’s national polling average, 55 points behind Trump. In the critical early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, Scott jumps up to 5.6% and 4.1%, respectively, still leagues away from Trump.

Scott’s campaign announced Monday that it’s shifting the bulk of its resources to Iowa, moving staffers and money away from New Hampshire to the caucuses. A super PAC supporting his presidential bid recently announced it was pulling the TV ad reservations it had made for the fall. A co-chair of the group said it wasn’t going to “waste our money when the electorate isn’t focused or ready for a Trump alternative.”

Scott isn’t the only GOP candidate to say Trump won’t be able to bring home the bacon for the Republican Party next year. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson have all made a similar argument.