The former governor and congressman who lost a Republican primary in his own backyard after President Donald Trump tweeted about him seems to think the president is so unpopular that he might have better luck with a national audience.
Sanford told the Post and Courier today that he’s considering challenging Trump in the 2020 Republican primary. While in office, Sanford often spoke out on conservative principles of small government and cutting spending, something he says Republicans have lost sight of.
“I’m a Republican. I think the Republican Party has lost its way on debt, spending and financial matters,” he told the P&C.
Sanford was among congressional Republicans who voted in favor of massive tax cuts. But even some conservative leaders say that economic activity may not be enough to offset the decrease in government revenue, meaning that the tax cuts may add to, not reduce, the federal deficit.
For better or worse, Sanford has never been one who is short on words, telling the P&C today that he’s got a few more: “Sometimes in life you’ve got to say what you’ve got to say, whether there’s an audience or not for that message.”
[embed-1] On the afternoon of last year’s Republican primary election in the 1st Congressional District, Trump endorsed Sanford’s challenger Katie Arrington, a Republican state rep who had closely tied herself to the president.
“Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA,” Trump tweeted, then alluding to Sanford’s 2009 extramarital affair while he was governor. “He is better off in Argentina.” S.C. Republican primary voters took the bait, and Arrington won by 2,500 votes, but lost the general election to Joe Cunningham.
On brand, Trump went on to brag about Sanford losing to Arrington in the primary. Boasting in a closed door session with congressional Republicans, Sanford’s former colleagues reportedly booed Trump, though he later said he was met with applause and laughter. Trump also incorrectly referred to Sanford’s dalliances on the “Tallahassee Trail” during a rally in Cayce, S.C.
Sanford says he’s taking a few weeks to consider the race. Either way, state Republican parties would still have to vote to hold primaries that could result in the party’s incumbent president being booted — those discussions will happen in the coming months.