Senator Tim Scott has become the latest Republican to join an increasingly crowded 2024 race for US president.
Mr Scott, 57, who has represented South Carolina in the chamber since 2013, promised to revive America’s “culture of greatness”.
With about $22m (£18m) in cash on hand, he enters the fray with more campaign funds than any of his rivals.
Ex-President Donald Trump is currently the runaway front-runner among Republicans for the party’s nomination.
At a launch event in his hometown of North Charleston on Monday, Mr Scott, who is black, touted his personal story – the grandson of a Deep South cotton field worker who rose to the US Senate – as an embodiment of the American dream.
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He spoke of being raised by a single mother and how his family went “from cotton to Congress” in his grandfather’s lifetime.
Mr Scott has previously spoken often of his experience as a black man in America, from being pulled over by police seven times in one year to being stopped inside the US Capitol building.
But in his campaign launch speech, he rejected the idea that the nation is defined by racial division.
“I am living proof that America is the land of opportunity, not a land of oppression,” he said, railing against the political left. “The truth of my life disproves their lies.”
He vowed to turn around “a nation in retreat”.
“Joe Biden and the radical left are attacking every rung of the ladder that helped me climb,” he said. “We are not in decline. We are in a Biden retreat. So all we need to do is turn around.”
Mr Scott is one of three sitting black US senators in the 100-member upper chamber of Congress. The Democrats have two.
The mild-mannered lawmaker, a teetotalling bachelor, has already picked up endorsements from two of his Senate colleagues, including John Thune, the chamber’s second highest-ranking Republican.
Mr Scott will be heading later this week to Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote in Republican primary elections.
Having already filed paperwork to run for president with the Federal Election Commission, he has also snapped up $6m of air time in both states. It is the largest single ad buy in the 2024 race to date.
The former insurance salesman joins a field that also includes ex-US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and radio host Larry Elder.
Others such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former Vice-President Mike Pence are also expected to run.
Opinion polls have placed Mr Trump well ahead of the competition, with Mr Scott garnering less than 5% support.
The South Carolina native’s campaign is expected to centre on a more positive, less populist form of conservatism, but he has said he has few policy differences with the former president.
He was a key backer of Mr Trump’s 2017 tax cuts in the Senate and has said he is “so thankful” for his White House tenure.
“Good luck Tim!” Mr Trump wrote on social media, his friendly message a stark contrast to the attacks he usually launches at rivals.
Governor DeSantis, who is polling in second place but has lost ground to Mr Trump in recent weeks, is expected to formally join the race later this week.