- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2012

South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott hasn’t given his highly-coveted endorsement in this week’s Republican presidential primary in his state, but the first-term congressman said in an interview Wednesday he had no problems with the rough-and-tumble tone of the race so far, saying it will benefit the party’s eventual nominee next fall.

“If Mitt Romney becomes our nominee, and the chances are still pretty good that he will, he will be a better candidate, a better nominee and a better debater because of the primary process that he’s gone through this year,” Mr. Scott told The Washington Times-affiliated “America’s Morning News” radio program. “It is making him a far better candidate … and we need the very best to beat Barack Obama.”

Mr. Scott, a member of the 2010 Republican congressional class swept into power with the backing of tea party activists, said he thinks Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who is currently polling second in the state behind Mr. Romney, won Monday night’s contentious debate in Myrtle Beach.

Newt Gingrich walked away with a victory, from my perspective. I think he’s run a pretty smart campaign,” he said.

Mr. Scott defended the former House speaker’s comments during the debate referring to Mr. Obama as the “food-stamp president.” Some critics have condemned the remarks and the audience’s enthusiastic response as racially-tinged.

Mr. Scott, the first black elected to Congress from his state since Reconstruction, said the South Carolina audience cheered because Mr. Gingrich spoke openly and passionately about the value of work.

“There’s no question that in South Carolina, we believe in a strong work ethic,” Mr. Scott said.

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