Failed GOP Congressman Mark Sanford Mulls Challenging Trump in Presidential Primary

‘The President said we’re not going to touch the very things that drive debt and spending…’

Mark Sanford photo

Mark Sanford/Photo by Gage Skidmore (CC)

(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Former South Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Sanford is considering challenging President Donald Trump in a primary, just a year after losing his re-election bid for Congress.

In an interview with the Charleston Post and Courier, Sanford said he will decide within the next month if a presidential bid is possible. His platform would be focused on reducing the national debt and cutting government spending, he said.

Sanford understands, however, that there might not be a voter base that cares about those issues. That won’t stop him, though.

“Sometimes in life you’ve got to say what you’ve got to say, whether there’s an audience or not for that message,” he said. “We’re walking away toward the most predictable financial crisis in the history of man.”


“There is little to no – I guess I’d say no discussion of debt, deficit and government spending these days,” he continued. “I’ve watched two Democratic presidential debates and there’s been zero discussion on both of them as to this issue. The President said we’re not going to touch the very things that drive debt and spending. So I think that, you know, we’re walking away into one heck of a financial storm, and there’s no discussion, and yet presidential years have historically been the year in which we do discuss these things.”

Sanford’s primary challenge wouldn’t be a condemnation of Trump, but of the GOP’s platform under Trump, he said.

“I’m a Republican. I think the Republican Party has lost its way on debt, spending, and financial matters,” he said.

Trump and Sanford have a tense relationship that reached a fever pitch when Sanford was running for re-election to the U.S. House in 2018. In retaliation for Sanford’s frequent expressions of disagreement — even displeasure — with the president, Trump retaliated by endorsing Sanford’s Republican opponent, former state Rep. Katie Arrington, on Twitter on the day of the GOP primary. Arrington defeated Sanford that night but ultimately lost in the 2018 general election to now-U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham, a Democrat.

Following Sanford’s defeat, Trump proceeded to mock Sanford at campaign rallies around the country, even in South Carolina when he appeared at an event for Gov. Henry McMaster. Still, Trump’s standing with the state’s Republican establishment has only grown stronger over the past year. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is a frequent golf partner of the president and has become one of his staunchest allies on Capitol Hill.

The South Carolina Republican Party said that Sanford’s challenge is unwelcome and “dumb.”

“The last time Mark Sanford had an idea this dumb, it killed his governorship,” South Carolina’s Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick said in a statement. “This makes about as much sense as that trip up the Appalachian Trail.”

McKissick was referring to the time that Sanford, in his second term as governor in 2009, initially told his staff he was away hiking the Appalachian Trial but was actually on an extramarital tryst with an Argentinian woman. Sanford would go on to serve six years in Congress, sitting in the 1st District seat he originally held for three terms in the 1990s.

Information from The State in Columbia, S.C. contributed to this article. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.