At the annual soiree for El Paso County Republicans, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., dropped in for a surprise speech backing Senate candidate Darryl Glenn and a lukewarm hurrah for presidential candidate Donald Trump.
"I'm looking forward to this year to all y'all - y'all is both singular and plural for those of you who were wondering - all y'all sending Darryl Glenn to the U.S. Senate this year," Scott said to a crowd of several hundred gathered Friday at Cheyenne Mountain Resort for the biggest fundraiser of the year for the county GOP.
"I'm excited. I know that there is some controversy this year at the top of our ticket, but I am telling you that the binary choice is a very simple one. You are either voting for Hillary Clinton or you are voting against Hillary Clinton," Scott said. "And if you are voting against Hillary Clinton there is only one choice and his name is Donald Trump."
Scott, whose father lives in Colorado Springs, told The Gazette just a few minutes before the event that while neither candidate for president reflects his value system, Trump better represents the future he wants for America.
Scott is one of two black senators in office. In endorsing Glenn on Friday night, he backed one of very few minorities in Colorado history to win the nomination of either party for the position of Senate.
Scott said that while diversity is important the most important thing is diversity of thought and being able to reflect the people you serve.
"While we do celebrate the obvious move that's been made by so many people of color supported by hundreds of thousands of voters, probably millions of voters throughout the country, what it reflects is a transformation that has occurred across this country," Scott said. "What it speaks to is that voters today want people who match their values and have a philosophy that is consistent with theirs and not necessarily someone who looks like them, which I think is good news."
Glenn said he didn't realize that he was the first black nominee from either party for U.S. Senate.
"It just is never at the forefront of my brain. I grew up in this community so it's never an issue for me," Glenn said. "I view my role as also being a role model so other people can come behind me."
Glenn said his greatest concern in politics is the inability for people to respectfully disagree.
"I'm trying to make sure that we elevate the dialogue and get people to understand that it's not always about race or sex," Glenn said.
"I just think the more we talk to one another the more we'll be able to break down those barriers."
Glenn enthusiastically backed Trump when he addressed the crowd - a sentiment that was echoed by U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.
"That's why I'm voting Republican up and down the ticket. A Republican president will make a difference, even a Republican president named Donald Trump," said Gardner, who last year accomplished what Glenn hopes to do this year by unseating one of Colorado's Democratic senators.
But Scott wasn't alone in the crowd with his misgivings for Trump.
Tyler and Molly Stevens, both elected officials in Green Mountain Falls, said they are struggling to back the GOP nominee for president.
"I'm waiting to see," said Tyler Stevens, who is a trustee and former mayor in the mountain town. "I have grave concerns about his posture and stance as a presidential individual."
Asked what Trump could do to win him over, Tyler Stevens said Trump could "improve his personality."
Molly Stevens, a member of the Manitou Springs School Board, said she is driven by the standards of common decency in who she will vote for this fall.
Jeanne Hayes of Colorado Springs said she wholeheartedly supports Trump for two reasons.
"His openness and the fact that he's not Hillary," Hayes said. "We need something new."
Hayes said she's not anti-politician per se, but she said the country needs something different.
"He might have way too big a mouth, but I think he's straight as an arrow. I think with Trump you get exactly what you get, and he's proving it every day. Every day he's opened his mouth he's proving you get what you get."
Contact Megan Schrader at 286-0644