Tim Scott: Discussing race with Trump was 'painful' but made me 'hopeful'

Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottIf Republicans rebuked Steve King, they must challenge Donald Trump McConnell rebukes Steve King over white nationalist comments Steve King faces new storm over remarks about white supremacy MORE (R-S.C.) acknowledged that his conversations with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE about race have been "painful" and "uncomfortable," but insisted that the president has kept an open mind on the issue.

"They're hard, they're painful, they're uncomfortable to sit in the Oval Office and have a conversation with the president about things that you strongly disagree about," Scott told CNN's Van Jones. "He didn't change his perspective, I certainly can't change my perspective." 

But Scott also said that he was "hopeful" after the conversations.

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"The way it closed I thought gave me reasons to be hopeful," Scott recalled. "It closed with: 'Tim I don't see what you see. What can I do to make things better?' "

"That was a shocking response. I was surprised after the conversation that his response was: 'Help me see a better light,' " he continued.

Scott added that it was after that interaction that Trump agreed to back his legislation creating "opportunity zones," which seek to use tax incentives to draw investment to areas of the country with high poverty and low economic growth.

Scott's meeting with Trump last year came after Trump faced bipartisan backlash for insisting that both white nationalists and counterprotesters were responsible for the violence that broke out in Charlottesville, Va., last August during a rally organized by racist groups.

Scott told CNN in April that he does not believe that Trump is a racist, but said that the president can be "racially insensitive."