Ex-SC Gov. Sanford joins long shots against Trump
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor and congressman, joined the Republican race against President Donald Trump on Sunday, aiming to put his Appalachian trail travails behind him for good as he pursues an admittedly remote path to the presidency.
“I am here to tell you now that I am going to get in,” Sanford said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is the beginning of a long walk.”
When asked why he was taking on an incumbent who’s popular within the party, Sanford, who has acknowledged his slim chances by saying he doesn’t expect to become president, said: “I think we need to have a conversation on what it means to be a Republican. I think that as the Republican Party, we have lost our way.”
Sanford joins Joe Walsh, a former tea-party-backed, one-term congressman from Illinois, and Bill Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, as primary challengers to Trump.
The 59-year-old Sanford has long been an outspoken critic of Trump’s, frequently questioning his motivations and qualifications during the run-up to the 2016 presidential election and calling Trump’s candidacy “a particularly tough pill to swallow.”
Ultimately, though, Sanford said he would support Trump in the 2016 general election.
As Sanford sought reelection to his post representing South Carolina’s 1st District in 2018, drawing a primary challenger who embraced Trump, the president took interest in the race. State Rep. Katie Arrington repeatedly aired ads featuring Sanford’s on-air critiques of Trump and attached the “Never Trump” moniker to Sanford.
Trump endorsed Arrington just hours before the polls closed, tweeting Sanford “has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign” and that “He is better off in Argentina” — a reference to Sanford’s secret 2009 rendezvous to South America for an extramarital affair while his in-the-dark gubernatorial staff told reporters he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Days after his first-ever political loss, Sanford described Trumpism as “a cancerous growth,” warning the GOP that the cancer is spreading.