Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina will announce his candidacy for president on Monday and will enter the race with around $22 million cash on hand, making him one of the most serious competitors for the front-runner, Donald J. Trump, even as Mr. Scott has hovered around 2 percent in Republican primary polls.
After announcing his campaign in his hometown, North Charleston, Mr. Scott will head to Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states of the Republican nominating contest. Mr. Scott’s campaign has reserved around $6 million in advertisements across television and radio in those states, according to an adviser with direct knowledge of Mr. Scott’s plans. The Scott campaign also plans to spend millions of dollars on digital ads that will target Iowa and New Hampshire voters and will run through the first Republican primary debate, scheduled to be held in August.
Mr. Scott, the most influential elected Black conservative in America, has a compelling life story around which he is expected to build his campaign. He portrays his rise from poverty to become the first Black senator from South Carolina and the only Black Republican in the Senate as an embodiment of the American dream.
Mr. Scott rarely criticizes Mr. Trump directly, but his message could not be more different from the former president’s. While Mr. Trump talks ominously of “retribution” — his promise to gut the civil service and law enforcement agencies that he pejoratively calls the “deep state” — Mr. Scott prefers the sunny language of Ronald Reagan.
“Americans are losing one of the most inspirational truths we have, which is hope — hope that things can and will get better, hope that education and hard work can equal prosperity, hope that we remain a city on a hill, a shining example of what can be when free people decide to join hands in self-governance,” Mr. Scott said in a speech last year at the Reagan Library on the future of the Republican Party.
“America stands at a crossroads,” he said, “with the potential for a great resetting, a renewal, even a rebirth — where we get to choose how we will meet the potential of today and the promise of tomorrow.”
There is little evidence, so far, that Mr. Scott’s message strikes a chord with the populist base of the modern G.O.P., which for the last several years has been led by a former TV star who likes to fight. For years, the Republican base has fed on apocalyptic talk that often casts Democrats as enemies bent on destroying America. In a party dominated by Mr. Trump’s message of “American carnage,” Mr. Scott’s talk of the importance of “unity,” “hope” and “redemption” can sound like a message from another time.
Mr. Scott’s campaign will have to balance his inherently optimistic message against the brutal realities of Republican primary politics.
“We will be authentic to Mr. Scott’s optimistic vision, but we’re also not in any way afraid to draw contrasts where we need to,” said the adviser with knowledge of Mr. Scott’s plans.
Mr. Scott will have more than enough money to find out if there’s a bigger market for his ideas than the polls suggest. His support for pro-business policies has made him a favorite of the Republican donor class, and he has billionaires like the Oracle founder Larry Ellison — who was aligned with Mr. Trump while he was in the White House — who are willing to put millions of dollars behind his campaign.