Mark Sanford, the former governor of South Carolina who went on to represent the state in the House of Representatives, announced that he will challenge President Trump in the Republican primaries.
Sanford wrote on Twitter that he was “compelled” to enter the primary race to “further and foster a national debate on our nation’s debt, deficits, and spending.”
Sanford wrote that the country is more “financially vulnerable than we have ever been since the Nation’s start and the Civil War.”
“As I have watched the Democrat debates I hear no discussion, or even recognition, of what is occurring. Instead I hear a laundry list of new unpaid for political promises. On the Republican side, spending is up well above President Obama,” he wrote, adding that Trump “has ruled out action on the very things that drive spending and accumulated debt.”
“Essentially no one ‘leading’ in Washington is leading, or even speaking of, our financial predicament,” he added. “We are living in a government spending and financial la-la land.. Which brings me to the larger question of what I, or any of us, can do about it? I have a unique vantage point and set of experiences – as a Governor, as a Member of Congress and as a taxpayer outside of politics. I do believe we must have this conversation now and humbly I step forward.”
Sanford joins just as SC cancels primary:
Sanford jumped into the race after his home state canceled the Republican primary.
The South Carolina GOP said it would save over $1 million by not holding a primary in 2020.
"President Trump and his administration have delivered for South Carolinians, and we look forward to ensuring that Republican candidates up and down the ballot are elected in 2020," state party chairman Drew McKissick said.
Republican leaders in Arizona, Nevada, and Kansas are also considering scrapping their primary and caucus contests.
Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, who is also challenging Trump in the primary, blasted the move.
"Clearly if you're President Trump and things are great and do you feel fine and you're strong, you wouldn't do this. They must be afraid of the fact that maybe he's not doing well," Walsh told CNN. "This president is like a mob boss, and it's beyond disappointing. The Republican National Committee, the Republican party, that pretty much controls a lot of these state parties -- they're doing all of Trump's bidding. They worship him, they're like a cult as well as so many of his voters."
Trump attacks Sanford:
Trump kicked off the week by firing off a jab at Sanford, who previously stepped down as South Carolina’s governor after an affair with an Argentinian journalist that he tried to cover up by claiming his suspect absence from the statehouse was the result of a hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail.
“When the former Governor of the Great State of South Carolina, @MarkSanford, was reported missing, only to then say he was away hiking on the Appalachian Trail, then was found in Argentina with his Flaming Dancer friend, it sounded like his political career was over,” Trump wrote.
“It was but then he ran for Congress and won, only to lose his re-elect after I Tweeted my endorsement, on Election Day, for his opponent,” he added. “But now take heart, he is back, and running for President of the United States. The Three Stooges, all badly failed candidates, will give it a go!”
“By Flaming Dancer, the president means ‘Flamingo Dancer,’ though it is flamenco, though there is no evidence the woman in question, a former journalist, has ever been a flamenco dancer,” CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale helpfully explained.
Reporter Isaac Saul noted that Trump’s decision to endorse Sanford’s opponent led to a Democrat winning the red district for the first time in nearly 40 years.