For the first year of the 112th Congress, many freshman Republican members of Congress, especially those "Tea Party Republicans" became faces frequently seen on television. One exception was South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott.
Which is not to say that Representative Scott has not been visible or has remained merely a spectator.
While the Republican presidential candidates visited South Carolina, instead of making numerous television appearances, Tim Scott did something different: he embraced the candidates. Hosting a series of forums, "Tim Scott's First in the South Presidential Town Hall Series," he helped introduce South Carolina voters to the candidates. Those unable to attend could later view the forums online and even submit questions for future town halls. Prominent conservative leaders such as Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and 2008 presidential candidate former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also appeared at forums he organized.
These forums have allowed South Carolina voters to interact with the candidates and other guests in intimate, unscripted events, while also allowing the featured guests to benefit from an extra opportunity to visit with First in the South voters. And while these forums have not been about Tim Scott, he has been a big beneficiary. Not only does he get credit for putting together these events, but in the process he has built relationships with party leaders—one of whom will be the Republican nominee. That's something rather difficult for someone who has been in Congress barely one year to accomplish.
As the nation's focus has shifted from Iowa and New Hampshire to South Carolina, Scott has increased his media presence, becoming a prominent face for South Carolina instead of remaining an elusive book for producers eager for anything Tea Party-related, appearing on important political shows including Meet the Press and CNN's John King, USA. Waiting to discuss something he was specifically relevant to instead of generic "news of the day" has allowed Scott not only to demonstrate his knowledge but that he is both smart and forward-thinking.
The national media has taken notice. In the past week CNN called Scott, who has not made an endorsement in the South Carolina contest, "the ultimate undecided voter," while GQ magazine, in naming him the 29th most powerful person in Washington, wrote that other Republican freshmen "might get more ink and airtime, but Scott's the only one who's already being called a kingmaker."
Those may be overstatements, but it's clear that as the Republican candidates move past South Carolina, Rep. Tim Scott—one of only two African-American Republicans in the House of Representatives and who has just founded his own leadership PAC, the Tomorrow Is Meaningful PAC (or TIM PAC)—will remain one to watch.