Sen. Tim Scott: Republican Convention Should Focus on 'Fairness and Opportunity'
The Republican said he has been pulled over by cops 7 times since his election.
— -- As the nation debates the state of race relations and police use of force in the wake of the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, prominent legislators are beginning to stand up and speak about their own experiences.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, made a speech on Wednesday on the floor of the U.S. Senate about his own experience being profiled by police officers, even as an elected official. Reflecting on his speech, Scott told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein on this week’s “Powerhouse Politics,” “It’s very difficult for a person to walk in another person’s shoes and sometimes we have blinders, and those blinders don’t necessarily mean ill-will.”
In his Wednesday speech to the U.S. Senate, Scott said in an emotional appeal, “I shuddered when I heard Eric Garner say, ‘I can’t breathe.’ I wept when I watched Walter Scott turn and run away and get shot and killed from the back. I broke when I heard the 4-year-old daughter of Philando Castile’s girlfriend tell her mother, ‘It’s OK, I’m right here with you.’”
Scott also noted that he has been stopped by law enforcement officers seven times since he was elected to office. For the “vast majority of the time,” Scott said in his speech, “I was pulled over for nothing more than driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood or some other reason just as trivial.”
Discussing his views of how to improve the state of race relations in the country, Scott noted a charged and divided conversation on race, saying to Karl and Klein, “You don’t have to simply bifurcate the discussion and have a discussion about ‘either/or.’"
Instead, “It can be a conversation that can includes ‘and,’” Scott said. Proposing that the nation focus on creating opportunity through education for those living in the “poorest ZIP codes” in the country, Scott said, “without that opportunity, the chasm between the haves and the have-nots will continue to grow.”
The Republican Party can answer the concerns of African Americans who are concerned with “having access to opportunities,” Scott said.
“If we hear out of the Cleveland convention, if we hear out of the Republican convention, a theme of fairness and opportunity that starts with jobs and the economy,” Scott said, referring to the upcoming Republican National Convention, “I think that will resonate very, very strongly in the African-American community, as well as every other community.”
“If we stick to a partisan, personal conversation, it will be more difficult for us to gain traction,” Scott said. Scott spoke to Karl and Klein before making another speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate today on the state of policing and race relations.
Despite the issues that continue to plague the country, Scott noted that “I think we’ve made more progress as a nation in the last 50 years than anyone could have imagined.”
Scott credited the role President Obama has played in leading this progress. “I think we have seen the best of America, in many, many ways, since the election of President Obama,” Scott said, referring to other political leaders of color who have been elected to office since President Obama’s inauguration.
“But we still can’t deny that there are places in our society where the fairness formula needs to be improved,” Scott added.
ABC News’ Ali Rogin contributed to this report.
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