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Republican freshman congressman Tim Scott of Charleston, who said it is "highly likely" he'll represent Beaufort County once congressional districts are redrawn, gave the Bluffton Tea Party a taste of what that might look like on Wednesday.
Scott fielded questions at the Golden Corral ranging from the debt ceiling to illegal immigration at the town hall-style meeting attended by about 100 people.
Scott, who currently represents the 1st congressional district that includes Horry County and portions of Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester and Georgetown counties, credited the Tea Party with electing him and joked the group asks questions politicians "don't want to answer."
Kicking off his speech by asking different sections of the audience to sing "Hit the Road, Jack" to President Barack Obama, Scott voiced his support for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security reform, spending cuts and tax reform to combat the federal debt.
He said he sided with Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal, which retools Medicare into a private insurance program with subsidies for individuals to purchase coverage. He denied it was a voucher program, calling it instead a "cafeteria-type plan."
"We have to teach people the entitlement mentality makes you more accustomed to a socialist lifestyle," Scott said.
Tea party member Ebba Gamer, who quizzed Scott on how he will avoid raising the debt ceiling, said Scott "tells it like it is."
But whether he represents Beaufort County or not, she said she wanted him to make a firm commitment to stop the federal debt from growing. That's the message she said South Carolina wants to send to Congress as a way to "preserve (the country) as a land of opportunity for our youth."
Scott was asked how he could win over minorities and younger people to the conservative cause.
Scott, the first black Republican from the Deep South elected to Congress since the 1800s, said his upbringing by a single mother in North Charleston was proof he could win those groups over.
Scott has been in Beaufort County several times over the past few months, including his appearance as the keynote speaker at the Beaufort County Republican convention in April.
Since fast-growing Horry County is the most likely anchor of an expected, new seventh congressional district, Scott said it seems "logical" he'll pick up Beaufort County. If that happens, he said, he wants to represent all of the county.