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Republican big guns Scott, Rubio and Blackburn offer advice to minorities looking to run for state office

Three Republican senators and two GOP House members met with state-level Republican activists and potential candidates Wednesday night to share advice on how to run for office and win state-level elections in an event hosted by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC). 

“I think it’s important for us to recognize that the future of the party in the future of the country depends on young exciting leadership from all communities within our country,” Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., told Fox News before the event. “Hopefully what we do is we tell people that the door is open, and then the second thing we do is go out that door ourselves and into diverse communities and attract qualified, competent candidates.”

Scott was joined on the panel by Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, and Rep. Young Kim, R-Calif. 

Former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, and Rep. Young Kim, R-Calif., speak at an event for the Republican State Leadership Committee on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (Tyler Olson/Fox News)

Former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, and Rep. Young Kim, R-Calif., speak at an event for the Republican State Leadership Committee on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (Tyler Olson/Fox News)

The panel was moderated by former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño, as RSLC rolled out its new “Right Leaders Network” initiative that’s aimed at helping “recruit, train and support diverse candidates to run for state office,” according to the RSLC. 

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Kim, whose House district President Biden won in 2020, said that sometimes being someone voters in a certain district can relate to gives a message more “credibility.” 

She said it’s important to “be able to look like the district, talk like the district, so they can relate to you. Coming from a woman’s perspective … I can relate to them … coming from somebody like me talking about immigration reform, it relates to the people.”

During her congressional campaign, Kim said she was able to tell “the diverse community, ‘I’m one of you, I look like you and, by golly, I talk like you.'”

Reps. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, and Young Kim, R-Calif., gesture as they take the stage at a Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) event on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (Tyler Olson/Fox News)

Reps. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, and Young Kim, R-Calif., gesture as they take the stage at a Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) event on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (Tyler Olson/Fox News)

Having the right messenger, Hinson added, is “as simple as just authenticity.” 

Scott noted that skin color, however, is not always key. He said in his first run for the House of Representatives, he defeated former GOP Sen. Strom Thurmond’s son in a district that’s about 75% White. 

The South Carolina senator said that a candidate who is starting a state-level run for office from the ground – with no fundraising, few connections and no name recognition – should “start by sharing your story.”

“Your story will inspire people to get involved,” Rubio added. 

And even after getting the basic apparatus of a campaign off the ground, Hinson added, storytelling skills are key. 

In this June 17, 2020, file photo, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Scott is the only Black Republican senator. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

In this June 17, 2020, file photo, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Scott is the only Black Republican senator. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

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“I’m a mom who drives a minivan,” Hinson said, adding that gives her credibility to talk about the cost of gas or “chicken fingers.” 

“The federal government could learn a thing or two about how moms do their grocery shopping,” Hinson added. She urged the Republicans in the room to use those kinds of relatable messages when they run against Democrats in 2022. 

Blackburn had some more old-fashioned advice for those interested in running for office. 

“When you shake someone’s hand and look them in the eye, ask for their vote,” Blackburn said. “Show how important that vote is, how you value that vote.”

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