ANKENY, Iowa — U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina has criticized fellow Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for supporting new standards that require teachers to instruct middle school students that slaves developed skills that “could be applied for their personal benefit.”
“What slavery was really about was separating families, about mutilating humans and even raping their wives. It was just devastating,” Scott, the sole Black Republican in the Senate, told reporters on Thursday after a town hall in Ankeny. “So I would hope that every person in our country — and certainly running for president — would appreciate that.”
“People have bad days,” Scott added. “Sometimes they regret what they say. And we should ask them again to clarify their positions.”
DeSantis has been facing criticism from Florida teachers, civil rights leaders and President Joe Biden’s White House on the school standards. Vice President Kamala Harris, the nation’s first Black vice president, traveled to Florida last week to condemn the curriculum.
Scott’s comments came as he and DeSantis stumped in Iowa ahead of the state Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner, a gathering at which 13 candidates in the GOP presidential primary field will be addressing an expected 1,200 activists on Friday. Scott, part of the GOP’s most diverse presidential field ever, was asked for his take on the standards hours after DeSantis defended them during a gaggle with reporters as he campaigned.
“At the end of the day, you got to choose: Are you going to side with Kamala Harris and liberal media outlets or are you going to side with the state of Florida?” DeSantis told reporters, citing Democrats’ criticism of the language. “I think it’s very clear that these guys did a good job on those standards. It wasn’t anything that was politically motivated.”
Responding on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to reporters’ posts of Scott’s video, a super PAC supporting DeSantis on Thursday night called the posts “incredibly sloppy or intentionally disingenuous,” reposting video of DeSantis’ defense of the curriculum earlier in the day.