‘It’s a daunting task, and it is indeed preposterous at many different levels…’
(Dan E. Way, Liberty Headlines) A cast of second-tier NeverTrump Republicans have said they are considering primary runs, with some expressing a willingness to endure political masochism for an incredibly long shot at denying President Donald Trump a second term.
That seems to be the takeaway from a Washington Post story published on Wednesday.
“Anybody who says, ‘I think I can beat Donald Trump,’ I think is stretching it,” said Rep. Mark Sanford, R-SC. “It’s a daunting task, and it is indeed preposterous at many different levels.”
That’s not to say the former South Carolina governor won’t try. Sanford said he is leaning toward running—and in a bit of twisted logic insisted he could win while getting trounced.
“If [Trump] gives you a nickname and his surrogates rough you up, you could get a message out and create a national conversation on what it means to be a Republican these days, and that could probably be worth the endeavor,” Sanford said.
It wouldn’t be the first political brawl for the thick-skinned Sanford, who weathered a headline-grabbing scandal of his own to complete his second term as governor and later win a seat representing the Palmetto State’s 1st U.S. Congressional District.
During last year’s midterm race, Trump endorsed Sanford’s primary opponent, calling the congressman “MIA” and saying he was “better off in Argentina”—a reference to his secret trips to visit a mistress there.
Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA. He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina. I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love. She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2018
To date, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld is the only declared Republican challenger.
But Joe Walsh—the talk radio host and former one-term congressman, not the rocker of James Gang and Eagles fame—told The Post he plans to square off against Trump in what will be the equivalent of a “bar fight” provoked by issues of Trump’s morality and competency.
Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who was more popular with Democrats in his home state than he was with Republicans when he opted not to run for re-election in 2018, also claimed to be increasingly wooed by GOP donors “rattled by signs of an economic slowdown and hungry for an alternative to Trump,” the newspaper reported.
John Kasich—a former Ohio governor and U.S. congressman who twice ran unsuccessfully for president, in 2000, and 2016—claimed to have received an increase of overtures this summer.
He said he was planning another trip to the bellwether state of New Hampshire next month to get a view from the ground, the newspaper reported.
Kasich, like the others, would seem to be on a quixotic path in challenging Trump. He won only one primary against Trump in 2016, in his home state of Ohio. He staggered through the primary season all the way into May before he suspended his campaign.
Various polls show Trump trailing a string of potential Democratic rivals in the 2020 election, according to The Hill. But the election is a long way off, and Trump steamrolled over pollsters’ predictions in 2016 as handily as he defeated 16 GOP challengers.
Moreover, Republican primary rivals would face a towering obstacle in campaign fundraising if waging a battle to unseat Trump.
According to Federal Elections Commission data, Trump’s election campaign had $56.7 million on hand at the end of June. Combined with Republican National Committee funds, the total soars to $100 million. Trump has raised $135.6 million this election cycle, and spent $96.4 million.