CHARLESTON, South Carolina (KETK) – Mark Sanford, former South Carolina governor and congressman, has launched a longshot Republican challenge to President Trump in the GOP primary.
Sanford is the third challenger to announce a bid for the White House, following former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld and former Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois.
He announced his decision in an interview Sunday on Fox News, saying he had planned to make the announcement “back home” in South Carolina next week, but that Hurricane Dorian’s “visit” to the coast “had sort of disrupted” those plans.
Sanford acknowledged that any Republican challenge to Trump, who enjoys a very high approval rating among Republicans, will be a difficult one, but is one that is needed.
“This is the beginning of a long walk,” he 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.”
He said he would focus his bid on spending and the growing national debt, which stands at $22.5 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
Sanford, 59, has long been an outspoken critic of Trump’s, frequently questioning his motivations and qualifications during the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Nonetheless, he supported Trump in 2016, although he had “no stomach for his personal style and his penchant for regularly demeaning others,” and frequently called for that the then-candidate to release his tax returns.
His criticism of Trump very likely led to his loss in his 2018 reelection bid for his congressional seat. In that race, Trump endorsed the challenger, Rep. Katie Arrington, who won the primary but lost to Rep. Joe Cunningham, a Democrat.
Sanford served as a congressman for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District from 1995-2001 and again from 2013-2019. He was governor from 2003-2011, where he faced scandal over an extramarital affair. Sanford said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail while, in actuality, he was in Argentina with a mistress.