Rep. Tim Scott is playing up his credentials as a fiscal conservative as he prepares to take over the Senate seat being vacated by South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint.
In an interview Thursday night with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren following his appointment by Gov. Nikki Haley, Scott said he plans to focus his attention on spending restraints and reducing the role of government in people's lives when he assumes his new post on Jan. 2.
"Today we have a spending problem and we have not addressed that yet. I think that stands as an obstacle in the way of all Americans," said Scott, who will be the only black in the Senate and the first black Republican to represent the South in the Senate since Reconstruction.
"And so, to the extent that we can fight the good fight of faith, we will on the issue of economic development and dealing with the very, very slow pace of our economy," he added.
Scott's appointment to succeed DeMint, who is resigning his seat to take over as head of the conservative Heritage Foundation, came at the end of only his first term in office. But tea party conservatives welcomed Haley's decision, saying Scott would continue to represent conservative "core values" in the Senate just he had done during his short tenure in the House.
Haley, who was also interviewed by Van Susteren, sought to play down the fact that she chose an African-American man to take DeMint's place.
"While I get this minority female has appointed this minority male and that's what everybody wants to talk about, I want to remind everybody he earned this," Haley said.
"He earned this for the person that he is, he earned this for the results that he's proven. And he will continue to earn it for the leadership that he shows," added Haley, who also referenced her own minority status as the daughter of immigrants from India.
“The only thing that we want you to take out of the minority situation is the fact that only in this country can an Indian female become governor, can an African-American male become U.S. senator,” Haley told Van Susteren. “Because every child, no matter what race or gender, can grow up to be anything they want in this country.”
Scott, who was raised by a single mother, grew up to own a successful insurance company and serve in the state legislature. He took the conservative business principles he learned as a young man to the U.S. House, where he was a steadfast opponent of tax increases and deficit spending. He told Van Susteren he plans to take those same principles across the Capitol to the Senate chamber.
"When you look at the reality of the conversation today, we keep hearing a conversation around revenues, and we really need to have a conversation around spending," he said. "The challenge we face in America is no matter what we do to increase taxes it simply will not have a dent in our annual deficits, much less the $16 trillion plus in our national debt.
"So for us to close the gap we're going to have to have a serious conversation about spending reform."
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