Politico Playbook:

As the South Carolinian takes the first steps of a potential presidential run, we called up one of his closest confidants — whom we granted anonymity to speak freely — hoping to answer a simple question: Does Tim Scott really want to be commander-in-chief? If so, since when, and why?


The confidant told us that Scott hasn’t harbored long-term ambitions of working in the Oval Office. But he’s been repulsed by the downward spiral of bullying and bomb-throwing that has become the hallmark of politics of late, and feels motivated to do something about it.


He’s never been a fan of DONALD TRUMP’s name-calling. He loathes the suggestion by some on the left that the nation is “racist.” In recent days, he’s cringed at Rep. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE’s (R-Ga.) call for the U.S. to be split into two nations of red and blue states, as well as her suggestion that former South Carolina Gov. NIKKI HALEY is simply a “Bush in heels.” Above all, he pines for a time when Americans could disagree about politics and still be cordial.


Therein lies one of Scott’s reasons for exploring a 2024 run: A belief that perhaps other Americans are similarly disgusted with the tenor of today’s politics, and want a candidate who will restore civility.


“He really does think that the country is disunified in ways that it doesn’t have to be,” said the confidant. “Now, there are plenty of areas where … there [are] going to be contrasts — no question about it. He just thinks there is a way to communicate — even with people that are never going to vote for you — and do it in a winsome way.”


That alone could be enough to draw a contrast between Scott and the other GOP 2024 hopefuls — especially Trump, who has repeatedly shown a willingness to savage his opponents with schoolyard insults and gutter tactics.


“You’re not going to get a tweet from Tim Scott taking a shot at MIKE POMPEO. You’re never going to get it,” the confidant told us. “He’s not going to become something he is not.”


But is that what Republican primary voters want? As NYT’s Jonathan Weisman recently wrote, it’s an open question “whether Republican voters who embraced Donald J. Trump’s brand of us-versus-them divisiveness are ready for the themes that Mr. Scott is selling.” His reputation as a gentleman, Weisman continues, “could prove to be a liability in today’s Republican primary environment, where … activists may be more interested in anger than optimism.”