How Tim Scott chose to endorse Marco Rubio for president

Scott could’ve easily avoided the pressure of choosing because he is up for reelection this year. Haley appointed Scott to his Senate seat in 2013, after Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) decided to quit midterm to the Heritage Foundation. He won the remainder of DeMint’s term outright in November 2014, but now must stand for election in November to win a full six-year term.

Rather than taking a pass on endorsing anyone, Scott instead decided to maximize his leverage. He put a premium on issues of fighting poverty and upward mobility that are not part of the normal Republican primary vocabulary. Beginning in late August, Scott hosted 12 different town halls with presidential candidates spread all across the state, including everyone from onetime front-runner Donald Trump to his South Carolina partner, Sen. Lindsey Graham, whose own presidential bid came to an end in December.

At each event, Scott said, he took detailed notes of how the candidates handled questions from his constituents on the biggest issues of the day, with a particular focus on national security and poverty.