It was a day that U.S. Senator Tim Scott should remember because he saw a piece of legislation he worked hard on pass. It was also a day that he was thanked by the president for his efforts.
Instead, the South Carolina Republican had to spend time addressing issues of race.
Scott was part of a large contingent of Republicans gathered on the White House lawn following the passage of a tax bill. It was a major event for the GOP in Congress, and the most significant legislative victory to date for President Donald Trump.
At the White House news conference, Scott was positioned prominently among the crowd of Washington’s elite Republicans. It included Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell among others.
Scott was at the front of the crowd because that’s where he was as Republicans pushed to write, sell and pass the bill in both chambers of Congress.
Trump acknowledged the efforts and called on Scott to speak.
“He came in and he would solve some problems when we weren’t looking too good a couple of times,” Trump said, looking at Scott. “Thank you, Tim.”
Scott spoke, saying “This is not about Washington. It’s not about the left. It’s not about the right. It’s about single parent moms who are looking for a reason to be hopeful in 2018.”
His moment basking in the spotlight didn’t last very long. Shortly after the White House gathering, Scott defended himself and dealt with a post on Twitter.
Scott was responding to Andy Ostroy, who describes himself as a political/pop culture analyst, blogger, and Huffington Post contributor. In his Twitter bio, he says he is “Blocked by Donald, Don Jr, Ivanka, Eric,” Trump.
Ostroy appears to stir up controversy on social media, and might have been looking to hit a nerve when he mentioned Scott.
Ostroy tweeted that Scott was only prominently featured in the event because he’s black.
He even said that Scott was used.
“What a shocker… there’s ONE black person there and sure enough they have him standing right next to the mic like a manipulated prop. Way to go @SenatorTimScott,” Ostroy tweeted, adding #trump #taxscambill.
From a look at his Twitter feed, Scott doesn’t usually engage a lot of posters. He seems to use it more as a platform to reach his constituents and the public at large.
But in this instance, Scott responded. He addressed his presence at the White House event.
“Uh probably because I helped write the bill for the past year, have multiple provisions included, got multiple Senators on board over the last week and have worked on tax reform my entire time in Congress. But if you’d rather just see my skin color, pls feel free.”
It was a powerful message from the only black Republican senator.
If his tweet wasn’t enough, a great number of people posted criticisms of Ostroy. Some cheered Scott, defended him, disparaged Ostroy or called for him to be fired.
Ultimately, Ostroy deleted the tweet. He went another step and apologized to Scott for the offending post.
“@SenatorTimScott, earlier I tweeted something that I now agree was unfair. Senator, I regret that tweet & apologize for it. There were many other ways I should’ve and could’ve made my point.”
As of Wednesday evening, Scott had not responded to the apology.