It was late October and Tim Scott’s campaign manager, Jennifer DeCasper, was trying to rally the troops on an all-staff call, announcing that they would soon relocate to Iowa in a last-ditch move to salvage his floundering presidential bid. She broke the news from the back seat of an Uber, according to four people familiar with the call.As the car bumped through the streets of Chicago after a Scott speech had run long, Ms. DeCasper insisted, “We are not failing.”But by then, even many of those around Mr. Scott believed his candidacy had already run its course.His debate performances were flat. His television ads weren’t working. His operation was burning through far more cash than it was raising. And his super PAC had canceled its own television ads days before Ms. DeCasper’s staff call.
There was one other detail that had been closely guarded: The man long expected to be the super PAC’s biggest donor, the billionaire Larry Ellison, wound up not giving anything to the group after Mr. Scott entered the race, according to four people aware of the group’s finances. From 2020 to 2022, Mr. Ellison donated $35 million to Scott-aligned groups, and a huge check had seemed a foregone conclusion when Mr. Ellison showed up at the Scott kickoff and got a shout-out from the stage.< br>
Before his run, Mr. Scott telegraphed to allies that he had expected a significant sum to flow into his super PAC, according to three of the people familiar with the discussions and planning, and the super PAC wrote a budget for roughly half the amount that Mr. Scott had predicted. But donations fell well short of even that smaller sum.