(Bloomberg) -- US Senator Tim Scott is endorsing Donald Trump for president, according to people familiar with the matter, delivering the GOP frontrunner a coveted endorsement from a one-time rival who drew support from prominent business executives.
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Scott intends to make his announcement Friday evening at a rally for Trump in Concord, New Hampshire, one of the people familiar said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the plans.
Scott’s decision comes four days before the New Hampshire primary and is a blow to Trump’s rivals, who have hopes for an upset. Nikki Haley, the former governor of Scott’s home state of South Carolina, has poured her campaign’s resources into the contest in a bid to establish herself as Trump’s chief alternative.
“Nikki Haley thought South Carolina was going to be her firewall, but instead it will be her downfall,” said Taylor Budowich, chief executive officer of Make America Great Again Inc, a super political action committee that supports Trump.
The RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Trump ahead of Haley in both New Hampshire and South Carolina. The New York Times first reported Scott’s plans.
“Interesting that Trump’s lining up with all the Washington insiders when he claimed he wanted to drain the swamp. But the fellas are gonna do what the fellas are gonna do,” Haley campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said in a text message.
Haley, as governor, appointed Scott to the Senate in 2012.
Trump is coming off a historic margin of victory in the Iowa caucuses, and another win Tuesday in New Hampshire would be a major step toward his goal of wrapping up the Republican nomination quickly.
The endorsement also threatens to complicate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s strategy. DeSantis, who is battling Haley for the mantle of Trump’s chief rival, is effectively ceding New Hampshire and instead redirecting his campaign resources to the primary in South Carolina.
Scott ended his own long-shot bid for the nomination in November, after he struggled to emerge from the then-crowded GOP field with a message built around his personal story and an optimistic vision for the US that drew a sharp contrast with Trump’s rhetoric.
When he dropped out of the race, Scott said he was not looking to join a ticket as a vice presidential pick, saying that “has never been on my to-do list for this campaign, and it’s certainly not there now.” Still, his endorsement will fuel speculation that he could be a potential running mate for Trump.
Scott is the only Black Republican in the US Senate and seen as well-liked by his colleagues in the chamber. He was also the only Republican candidate with a net favorability rating among swing-state voters, according to a Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll last year.
As the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, Scott used his network of deep-pocketed donors to enter the race with a significant cash advantage. His wealthy supporters included Marc Rowan of Apollo Global Management and Stan Druckenmiller of Duquesne Family Office, who hosted a Hamptons fundraiser for him.
Scott’s exit from the race set off a scramble among the remaining GOP contenders to poach his donors.
--With assistance from Nancy Cook.
(Updates with Haley comment)
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