Despite some recent controversy, President Donald J. Trump’s popularity among Republicans is bigger than ever. However, that has not stopped a former South Carolina lawmaker from possible challenging the President for the GOP nomination in 2020.
Former South Carolina congressman Mark Sanford is considering launching a bid for president just months after leaving office following President Trump urging Republican voters in the Palmetto State to reject Sanford’s re-nomination.
Speaking to the local newspaper, The Post and Courier, Sanford said that he is taking the next month to decide whether or not he’ll mount a challenge to Trump’s candidacy in the 2020 presidential election, where he would run on a platform focusing on curtailing the national debt and government spending.
“Sometimes in life you’ve got to say what you’ve got to say, whether there’s an audience or not for that message,” Sanford said.
According to Fox New, Sanford, who previously served as South Carolina’s governor, would still run as a Republican, and not an independent.
“I’m a Republican. I think the Republican Party has lost its way on debt, spending and financial matters,” he said.
An Uphill Battle for Any Republican Who Would Challenge Trump
If he does decide to mount a challenge against Trump for the Republican nomination, Sanford would face a ridiculously uphill battle for many reasons.
First there would be major logistical problems for Sanford. Not only would he run into opposition from the Republican Party for running against an incumbent who enjoys over 90% support within the party, but state Republicans would have to agree to hold primary elections and caucuses to allow Sanford to challenge Trump at the ballot box.
So far, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld is the only Republican to announce a challenge to Trump’s re-election hopes. Sanford said part of his hesitancy in running is that he is waiting to see if other high-profile Republicans – namely former Ohio Gov. John Kasich – plan on challenging Trump in a primary.
Another issue for Sanford is the memory of his extramarital affair – and his almost weeklong disappearance – with an Argentine journalist while he was serving as South Carolina governor in 2009. A spokesperson for Sanford first described his absence by saying the then-governor was hiking the Appalachian Trail, but he was actually in Buenos Aires.
The scandal led to an official censure by the South Carolina General Assembly and resulted in Sanford’s resignation as chair of the Republican Governors Association, but he did complete his second term as governor.
The scandal served as fodder for some taunting by the President. During his two years in Congress while Trump was president, the two had a rough relationship that culminated in Trump telling voters in South Carolina to vote for his primary challenger Katie Arrington and tweeting that Sanford is “better off in Argentina.” Arrington eventually lost the general election to Democrat Joe Cunningham.
A week after Sanford’s loss, Trump reportedly made fun of him during a closed-door meeting with House Republicans, where some Republicans allegedly booed the President. Trump denied the reports and insisted that those present “applauded and laughed loudly” when he mocked Sanford.
The President was not the only one to use Sanford’s indiscretions against him. “The last time Mark Sanford had an idea this dumb, it killed his Governorship,” Chairman of the South Carolina General Assembly, Drew McKissick said in a statement. “This makes about as much sense as that trip up the Appalachian trail.”