Republican presidential candidate Tim Scott was booed by a television audience – and rescued by Whoopi Goldberg – after he defended Florida governor Ron DeSantis and claimed American children were being “indoctrinated” regarding LGBTQ+ issues.
The South Carolina senator, 57, also accused hosts of ABC’s The View of voicing a “dangerous, offensive, disgusting message to send to our young people today”, in contending that his success is an exception in a systemically racist society.
The only Black Republican in the US Senate, Scott is the first Black senator elected in a southern state since the Reconstruction period after the civil war.
He declared his presidential run in May but has struggled in polling. The frontrunner, the former president Donald Trump, enjoys commanding leads over Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor who is himself clear of the rest of the field.
Scott scores in single digits, as do two Indian Americans: Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor, and Vivek Ramaswamy, a biotech entrepreneur.
On Monday, Scott was asked about the fight between DeSantis and Disney, which opposes a so-called “don’t say gay” state law regarding teaching in public schools.
He said: “I think Disney and Ron have been a combat zone for a number of months over what I thought was the right issue as it relates to our young kids and what they’re being indoctrinated with. I thought he started off on the right foot on that issue.”
The audience booed. Goldberg stepped in.
“Not here,” the actor said. “I’m sorry, sir. This is The View. We don’t have to believe everything people say, but you cannot boo people here, please. You cannot do it.”
The audience cheered.
The ABC daytime show regularly stirs controversy, often over politics or race. Scott asked to appear after he was criticised for saying systemic racism does not exist.
On Monday, the co-host Sunny Hostin, who is Black, said: “When it comes to racial inequality, it persists in five core aspects of life in the US: economics, education, healthcare, criminal justice and housing.
“At nearly every turn, these achievements were fought, threatened and erased most often by white violence. You have indicated that you don’t believe in systemic racism. What is your definition of systemic racism?”
Scott said: “One of the reasons why I’m on this show was because of the comments that were made, frankly, on this show, that the only way for a young African American kid to be successful in this country is to be the exception and not the rule.
“That is a dangerous, offensive, disgusting message to send to our young people today, that the only way to succeed is by being the exception. I will tell you that if my life is the exception, I can’t imagine – ”
Hostin said: “It is.”
Scott said: “It’s not actually.”
Hostin said: “But it is, it’s been 114 years” since Reconstruction.
Scott said: “The fact of the matter is we’ve had an African American president, African American vice-president, we’ve had two African Americans to be secretaries of state. In my home city, the police chief is an African American who’s now running for mayor. The head of the highway patrol for South Carolina is an African American.”
Amid crosstalk, Scott said: “I’ve watched you on the show, you like people to be deferential and respectful, so I’m going to do the same thing.”
Hostin said: “That is true.”
Scott said “progress in America is palpable” and talked about racism experienced by his grandfather, who he said nonetheless believed in “the goodness of America because he believed [in] faith in God … and faith in what the future could hold for his kids”.
Eventually, Goldberg took the show to a break. When the show returned, Hostin and Scott were arguing.
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