U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., decried Obamacare but still painted a rosy picture of America’s future during his 15-minute speech today before a major conservative convention.

Scott showed off his increasingly evangelical speaking style, moving out from behind the podium and telling personal stories, including one about his near fatal car crash in high school.

Scott also praised his mentor, the late John Moniz, who ran a Chic-fil-A in the Lowcountry. “He taught me how to think my way out of poverty,” Scott said, adding that Moniz was only 36 when he died suddenly in 1986.

“John Moniz’s dream still lives, and America’s finest hour is still ahead of us. We are an opportunity society. We are not a society that believes in redistribution.”

Scott addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a gathering of about 9,000 conservative activists just outside Washington. The Washington Post has called the event “an annual gut check for the political right.”

It was arguably Scott’s biggest speech to date as a Senator and was streamed live on several news sites. He was sworn in two months ago to fill the next two years of Jim DeMint’s Senate term.

Scott followed Texas Gov. and former GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry, whose hair Scott praised.

“When you’re bald and you’re trying to be beautiful, you have to talk about somebody else’s hair,” he joked.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.