Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., defended both the Republican Party and his own role as the first black senator from his home state since Reconstruction by saying the GOP is the real party of diversity in America.

"The GOP really has become the Great Opportunity Party," Scott told NBC's David Gregory on "Meet the Press" in an interview Sunday.

Scott noted that as a teenager it was a conservative Republican who convinced him he had a future in politics, and brushed aside criticism by black leaders of his own role by saying they had not taken the time to get to know him.

He also said the GOP's multiple responses to President Obama's State of the Union address were a sign of strength, not weakness.

"The reason why the party continues to grow is because we like the diversity of ideas, and when we've had that diversity of ideas, it helps us to build the best party for the future," he said. "At the end of the day, what America needs is a party that is as diverse as the Republican Party — that is why the great opportunity for our future comes out of the GOP."