Former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford Announces He May Enter GOP Primary Race Against Trump
In an interview with the Post and Courier, Sanford said that he will decide next month whether or not he will run against the president for the GOP nomination. The South Carolina Republican said that he wants to push the debate about the national debt and government spending to the forefront of the 2020 elections, and running against Trump may provide him the press coverage necessary to do that.
“Sometimes in life you’ve got to say what you’ve got to say, whether there’s an audience or not for that message,” Sanford said. “I feel convicted.”
If Sanford does enter the race he will certainly face much difficulty gaining traction while fighting against his party’s establishment. Hours after he announced he may run for president, the South Carolina Republican Party bluntly voiced their disapproval.
“The last time Mark Sanford had an idea this dumb, it killed his Governorship. This makes about as much sense as that trip up the Appalachian Trail,” said South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick in an emailed statement, referencing a 2009 incident in which Sanford announced he would be hiking the Appalachian Trail for a week when he was actually traveling on a vacation with his mistress.
Sanford would join former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld in launching a primary challenge against the sitting president if he decides to run.
While there is general consensus that Sanford would not be able to beat Trump for the nomination, he could use his presidential campaign to introduce new ideas to the mainstream debate cycle, in a similar manner to how Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) brought up ideas in 2016 that are now front and center in the 2020 election debates. Sanford is a strong proponent of reducing the national deficit, an idea which used to be integral to the Republican Party but has taken a backseat in recent years to Trumpism. If he gains enough traction, Sanford may be able to bring what used to be a core value of the GOP back into the spotlight.