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ABC "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" - Transcript:

Interview

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ZELENY: But Scott is brimming with optimism and steeped in history he's not only the lone Republicans African American in Congress, but the only black Republican senator in more than a century.

I noticed a headline in South Carolina biggest newspaper earlier this year. It says, "The GOP Hopes Tim Scott Will Attract More Black Voters."

Do you think you've done that?

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I hope what I provide is an opportunity to have a serious conversation with voters everywhere, black voters, white voters, old voters, young voters.

ZELENY: Why do Republicans continue to struggle so much, diversifying their ranks?

SCOTT: We don't need to simply win the demographic war, we need to win the war of ideas.

ZELENY (voice-over): Black Republicans are a rare find here in South Carolina. Black Democrats are skeptical of its politics.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN, D-S.C.: Well, it's always good to have diversity. But diversity can be skin color and it can be philosophy. I would hope that the Republican Party would be a little more diversified in its approach to governance.

ZELENY (voice-over): Scott says Republicans should spend more time focusing on poor and middle class Americans.

Are Republicans as a party focused enough on these issues?

SCOTT: I think there's always room for improvement without any question. One of the things I've said very consistently is that we have to fight (ph) in the education space. My life has changed because a public education.

ZELENY (voice-over): Scott grew up on this dead end street in North Charleston. He thinks of this neighborhood when he gets hate mail or hears condemnations like when a North Carolina NAACP leader called him the GOP's ventriloquist dummy.

ZELENY: When they said those criticisms, do they know that you grew up here?

SCOTT: At the end of the day, these folks who are criticizing, very few of them have taken the time to make a phone call, to have a conversation, to have a debate about my agenda. The truth of the matter is, they have no clue who I am or what I stand for.

ZELENY: Conservatives are beaming about their new senator, in part because of his opposition to President Obama's policies.

JOHN STEINBERGER: He's a core conservative and he articulates what he believes and resonates very well with South Carolina Republicans.

ZELENY: Along the way, Scott started an unusual program, the undercover senator. One of his stops, a burrito restaurant, sweeping floors and chopping chicken all to anonymously listen to voters' concerns.

Did anyone have any idea that you were a United States senator?

SCOTT: No. You know, within an hour, hour and a half or so, (INAUDIBLE) typically someone says, aren't you that guy? No, I'm not Darius Rucker. I'm just Tim Scott.

ZELENY: These days he's putting on his salesman's hat for the GOP, trying to sell a helpful message and soften a debate he says is too often inflammatory and shrill.

Do you ever feel like you'd like to turn the volume down, though, on some of those senators on both sides on the Senate floor?

SCOTT: Let me say, I -- yes. I mean just to be blunt, absolutely.

ZELENY: On whose microphone?

SCOTT: Well, I can't be that blunt.

ZELENY: In Republican rich South Carolina, Scott's election in November seems almost assured.

It's his next chapter that's still to be written. For THIS WEEK, Jeff Zeleny, ABC News, Charleston, South Carolina.


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