Trump doesn’t deserve re-election, considers challenge
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said Donald Trump is taking the country in “the wrong direction” and does not deserve to be re-elected in a Meet the Press interview Sunday. He is considering a Republican primary bid against Trump.
Sanford also served as a representative for his state but lost his primary in 2018 after Trump endorsed his opponent, State Rep. Katie Arrington, who eventually lost the general election.
“This conversation began the day after my primary loss last June,” Sanford said. “A friend called and said ‘God just cleared your calendar for a reason, I know what it is. You need to primary the president.’ I’m like, ‘Are you completely out of your mind?’”
But since, Sanford has toyed with the idea.
“There’s been a drumbeat over the last year of people who I admire, who are not crazy, who are very thoughtful saying we need to have this conversation,” he said, referring to the possibility of a primary challenger running against Trump.
“The Republican Party has a great lineage of historically doing some great things right, but it’s gone off the tracks as of late,” Sanford said.
When asked why he stays in the Republican Party, Sanford said, “Because I’m a Republican” and he will not consider running as an independent.
And if he or another challenger fails to primary Trump, Sanford said he will still vote for him against a Democratic nominee.
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A controversial history would follow Sanford into any campaign; he was involved in a scandal in 2009 when he disappeared for six days and it was later revealed he had been having an extramarital affair with an Argentinian woman. The scandal ended with his divorce, and Trump made reference to it in his endorsement of Arrington.
“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,” Trump tweeted last year.
“I’m sure there are much better candidates out there than I am,” Sanford said, “But we’ve got to have this conversation as Republicans and as a nation.”
Sanford would join a Republican primary field that already has former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld vying for office. Unseating a president in the primaries from within the same party would be an unprecedented feat. But Sanford said his potential run would not be a “vanity project.”
“You can compete for ideas,” he said. “If we began a national conversation on where in the world are we going with unprecedented levels of debt, unprecedented levels of deficit going forward, unprecedented levels of spending, where are we going as a Republican party in terms of what comes next?”
Sanford will make a decision on running by Labor Day, he said. What might stop him: “My four sons. If they’re decidedly against it, I won’t.”
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