This was the sharpest blow to Trump from the South Carolina senator, who has long cultivated a "good guy" image.
MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa - Republican Senator Tim Scott said Donald Trump lacks what it takes to win a general election, the sharpest blow he's dealt to the former president and a clear rebuke of Trump, who continues to lead the 2024 Republican primaries.
Scott made the comment on Monday evening in response to a voter's question about why she should no longer support Trump.
"I don't think he can win," Scott said. "You've got to be able to win in Georgia. I don't think he can win in Georgia. I think you will definitely win in Pennsylvania."
Scott also appeared to blame Trump for the losses in the 2021 Georgia runoff elections, which cost the Republican Party control of the Senate when Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won.
"Everybody remembers January 6th, 2020. But sometimes we forget January 5th," Scott said. "We had two seats from the Republican Party on the ballot in Georgia. And the party told North Georgians to stay home."
After the Georgia election results, many Republican strategists accused Trump of continuing to cast doubt on the integrity of the electoral system, sowing confusion about whether Republicans should vote at all.
In recent weeks, Scott has also suggested that the Republican Party should move on from Trump and positioned himself as a more compelling and optimistic alternative.
"We've lost three of the last national elections because the negative doesn't work," Scott said on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday, without mentioning Trump by name. "We need a candidate who will bring optimism."
Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung criticized Scott's position in the presidential race when asked to comment on his remarks.
"We don't respond to 1% polling," Cheung said.
Scott is polling at an average of 2% in the FiveThirtyEight national polls, trailing Trump by 55 points. In critical early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire, Scott has risen to 5.6% and 4.1%, respectively, but still lags far behind Trump.
Scott's campaign announced on Monday that it is shifting most of its resources to Iowa, moving staff and money from New Hampshire to the caucuses. The Scott-supporting PAC recently announced it was canceling its fall TV ad reservation, with the co-chairman of the group saying it wouldn't "spend money in vain when the electorate is not focused or ready for an alternative to Trump."
Scott is not the only Republican candidate to argue that Trump won't be able to bring home the bacon for the Republican Party next year. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson have made similar arguments.