Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) formally announced Monday that he will seek the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination, jumping into a primary battle that has so far centered around former President Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Scott announced his decision at his alma mater, Charleston Southern University, in a speech drawing on his biography of growing up poor in North Charleston, S.C., and eventually ascending to the Senate.

“We live in the land where it is possible for a kid raised in poverty by a single mother in a small apartment to one day serve in the People’s House and maybe even the White House,” Scott said, according to prepared remarks shared with reporters ahead of his formal announcement.

“This is the greatest country on God’s green Earth.” 

Scott’s announcement makes him the sixth major candidate to enter the 2024 Republican presidential primary, putting him on a list that also includes Trump, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and radio host Larry Elder.

The field is likely to grow even larger later this week, with the expected announcement of DeSantis’s campaign. 

Scott’s announcement has long been expected. He formed a presidential exploratory committee earlier this year and filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Friday disclosing his intention to run

While Scott’s seen as an affable, well-liked senator by Republicans and many Democrats, he’s likely to face an uphill battle for the 2024 GOP nomination. 

Early polling shows Trump running well ahead of any other declared or prospective presidential hopeful. DeSantis is in a distant second place, and most surveys show him as the only candidate besides Trump to score double-digit support.

Still, the Iowa caucuses, the first-in-the-nation nominating contest for Republicans, are months away, and Scott’s supporters say there’s plenty of time for the state of the race to change.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., right, welcomes his mother Frances Scott on stage as he gives remarks at his presidential campaign announcement event at his alma mater, Charleston Southern University, on Monday, May 22, 2023, in North Charleston, S.C. Scott formalized his bid last week with federal campaign paperwork. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

To be sure, Scott already has $22 million sitting in his campaign war chest. And he’s spent the past few months testing the waters for a presidential campaign, giving him a leg up as he formally kicks off his campaign.

In his announcement on Monday, Scott sought to strike an overwhelmingly optimistic tone, espousing the value of work and the opportunity for growth in America. Though he also painted a dim view of the country under President Biden’s leadership, saying that the U.S. had become a “nation in retreat.”

“They say opportunity in America is a myth and faith in America is a fraud. But the truth of my life disproves their lies,” Scott said. “The good news is all we need to do is turn around.”

Yet it’s unclear just how far Scott’s optimism will get him in a Republican primary dominated by debates over culture wars and conservative anger. The race has so far focused on the anticipated rivalry between Trump and DeSantis, who is expected to launch a 2024 bid later this week. 

Trump welcomed Scott into the race on Monday, using the senator’s announcement to swipe at DeSantis, whom Trump sees as his main competition for the 2024 nod.

“Good luck to Senator Tim Scott in entering the Republican Presidential Primary Race,” Trump said on his social media site, Truth Social. “It is rapidly loading up with lots of people, and Tim is a big step up from Ron DeSanctimonious, who is totally unelectable.”

Updated at 12:14 p.m.