Reporters and audience members were quick to notice the pair held hands at one point. Who could she be, they wondered?
The campaign quickly confirmed she was indeed the girlfriend he had previously hinted at but never before publicly revealed, giving reporters at first just a first name — Mindy. Soon, online sleuths tracked down her social media pages and details about her life. Mindy Noce, according to public records and online information, is a design and renovations manager for a real estate company in the Charleston, S.C., area, and a mother of three. The campaign confirmed she was his girlfriend but declined to share more details.
The moment marked an end — or maybe a beginning — to speculation about Scott’s relationship status.
Before the debate, Scott had said he was dating a Christian woman, someone who agreed with his religious values. Scott previously told The Washington Post that they met through a friend at his church, sharing some color of their previous dates in the most revealing conversation yet about his recent dating life.
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“I can’t imagine dragging her onto the campaign trail unless I have the intention of marrying her,” he said. “I hope that happens, to be honest with you.”
His interview with The Post spurred more questions — and headlines such as the New York Times’s “Do Voters Actually Care That Tim Scott Isn’t Married?” and the Daily Beast’s “Please Stop the Weird Obsession With Tim Scott’s Love Life.”
Of the major candidates in Republican race, Scott, 58, is the only one who is unmarried. Voters have at times brushed off questions about his relationship status.
Sheryl Soden, from Ames, Iowa, who attended a Story County GOP meeting in August where Scott spoke, said: “If you don’t find the right one, why do you want to get married?”
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After the debate, reporters surrounded Scott and his staff in the spin room — where campaigns dispatch surrogates to tout their performances — some with questions about his debate performance and others with queries about the woman he was seen with. The fascination with Scott’s personal life comes amid a sputtering presidential bid, in which he has failed to gain traction.
But, Scott, tight-lipped, offered few details about his romantic relationship that had stirred gossip in conservative circles.
Asked about it by ABC News, Scott said they have dated for about a year and she was at his campaign launch event in May. But then he turned the conversation back to his presidential run.
“The good news is we continue to have a healthy relationship,” he said. “And I’ll tell you, we have a lot of fun together. Hopefully, as life continues we’ll continue to see our relationship evolve. But more importantly, I think the American people are more interested in their families than in my relationship.”
Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.
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