(CNN) South Carolinians Nikki Haley and Tim Scott, along with other presidential hopefuls, will address a conservative Christian forum on Saturday and lay out their vision for 2024 as they look at the White House and pretend to make their case before a bloc of Crucial vote early in voting state.
The forum, hosted by the Palmetto Family Council, is an opportunity for speakers to share their views on issues and engage with conservative voters. But even as Haley, the former Palmetto state governor, and Scott, his junior US senator, seek to win over their South Carolina compatriots, the two Republicans who have so far dominated the race are conspicuously absent: former President Donald Trump and Florida governor. Ron DeSantis.
Haley, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, was the first Republican to challenge her former boss for the Republican presidential nomination. She kicked off her campaign last month in Charleston, calling for a new generation of leadership, and recently spoke to a crowd in Myrtle Beach. She has sought to differentiate herself with her foreign policy experience and has focused her campaign on calls for congressional term limits, increased border security, fiscal responsibility and increased domestic energy production.
As for Scott, this forum is the latest sign that the Republican senator is testing the waters of the 2024 race. While he has dodged questions about whether he plans to run for president, Scott has been laying the groundwork for a campaign by leading his Faith in America “listening tour” to the key electoral states of Iowa and South Carolina.
On Saturday, Scott is expected to deliver a speech on various topics in the roughly 25 minutes allotted to him, according to a family source. The Republican senator will speak about his faith, the role it played in his formation as an elected official, how he sees the direction of the country, including strong criticism of President Joe Biden’s agenda, but ending with a message of redemption and “better days to come.” “. the source told CNN.
Speakers can use their allotted time however they like, either giving a speech, answering questions from the audience, or a combination of both, according to Justin Hall, Palmetto Family Council director of communications.
Haley and Scott have been friends and political allies for a long time. In 2012, Haley nominated Scott to the vacant position left by Senator Jim DeMint, saying that Scott had “earned the job” because of his personality and background. But after Haley announced his presidential run, Scott declined to endorse her, according to The Post and Courier, in a sign that he might seek the presidency himself. Both had also attended the anti-tax group Club for Growth’s donor retreat in Palm Beach earlier this month along with other potential Republican candidates.
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who has been mulling a presidential run, will also speak at the forum. Former Vice President Mike Pence, another likely 2024 candidate, was invited but will speak at a foreign policy panel in Iowa the same day. Other potential candidates who have also been extended an invitation but do not plan to attend include former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and South Dakota Gov. Kirsti Noem.
Much of the early 2024 conversation has revolved around Trump and DeSantis, who is not yet an outspoken candidate. Both were invited to the Palmetto Family Council forum, but neither is expected to attend, according to Hall.
Trump and DeSantis led a recent CNN poll of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents about whom they would likely support for the 2024 Republican nomination. Haley trailed the two with 6%, while Scott trailed with 2%.
South Carolina was key to Trump’s political rise in 2016. He won the Republican primary there, cementing his status in a crowded Republican field as a favorite. Trump made the state one of his first stops in January in his first appearance on the campaign trail since he announced his re-election bid.
But Trump’s legal troubles continue to loom large on the campaign trail. The former president said Saturday that he expects to be arrested in connection with the investigation by the Manhattan district attorney next week, though he has maintained that he will not drop out of the race if indicted.
In the meantime, DeSantis intends to wait until the Florida legislative session concludes to decide whether to run for president. His national book tour has stops in Iowa and Nevada, but he has yet to visit South Carolina.
The forum falls just under a year away from the crucial South Carolina Republican Party primary. Republican voters in the state have chosen the eventual Republican nominee in nearly every cycle since 1980 except for 2012.
“We think the road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue runs right through Palmetto State,” Hall told CNN, adding that the forum “could certainly boost the campaign in South Carolina.”
This story has been updated with additional information on Saturday.
CNN’s Kit Maher contributed to this story