“He knows the value of a dollar. He understands what every family and small business goes through, and he has stayed consistent to that,” said Mrs. Haley, a Republican, during an early afternoon news event at the state Capitol to announce her decision.
“This man loves South Carolina, and he is very aware that every vote he does affects South Carolina and affects our country.”
Mr. Scott, who won a second term to the House last month and will be the only black Republican in the new Congress, was rumored to be Mrs. Haley’s top choice since Mr. DeMint announced earlier this month that he will resign from office in January to run the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Mrs. Haley, whose parents were Indian immigrants, brushed aside the notion that Mr. Scott’s race was a factor in her decision.
“It is very important to me, as a minority female, that Congressman Scott earned this seat,” she said. “He earned this seat for the person he is. He earned this seat for the results he has shown. He earned this seat for what I know he’s going to do in making South Carolina and making our country proud.”
Mr. Scott, who asked for a moment of silence for the victims of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting before he spoke at the Columbia news event, vowed to work toward advancing economic development in South Carolina.
“The future is incredibly bright for America,” he said. We have our challenges, we have things that we have to overcome, but, boy, does the future look great in South Carolina.”
Mr. DeMint applauded the governor’s pick, saying she “has made a great choice for South Carolina and the nation.”
“Tim Scott is a principled leader and will make an outstanding senator for the people of the South Carolina and an important voice for conservatives across the nation,” Mr. DeMint said in a statement.
“I’ve known Tim for years and am confident he will serve our state with honor and distinction.”
Fiscal and social conservative groups also praised Mrs. Haley’s decision.
“Her pick is truly a fantastic one for fiscal conservatives,” said Chris Chocola, president of the influential Club for Growth, which pushes for limited government spending. “Congressman Scott is a fighter for limited government and pro-growth policies in Washington, and we can’t wait to see him in the Senate.”
Others who reportedly were on the governor’s short list to replace Mr. DeMint were Rep. Trey Gowdy, former state Attorney General Henry McMaster, former first lady Jenny Sanford and Catherine Templeton, director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Mrs. Haley last week said she wouldn’t appoint a “placeholder” for Mr. DeMint’s seat, saying she wanted her pick to be someone who would consider seeking re-election to the seat in 2014.
Mr. Scott will be sworn in to the Senate when the new Congress convenes Jan. 3. Mrs. Haley said Monday she’s confident Mr. Scott easily will win election back to the Senate in two years.