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Sanford says he is launching primary challenge against Trump

Posted at 10:34 AM, Sep 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-08 10:34:56-04

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford will launch a longshot primary challenge for the 2020 Republican nomination, he announced Sunday, giving President Donald Trump another Republican challenger as he runs for reelection.

"I had planned to announce that back home this week. We had a hurricane come visit us on the coast of South Carolina so that sort of disrupted plans on that front," Sanford said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." "But I am here to tell you now, that I am going to get in."

When asked why he was running, he said because "I think we need to have a conversation on what it means to be a Republican," adding that he thinks the Republican Party has lost its way on "a couple different fronts."

He becomes the third Republican to mount a primary challenge against the President. In April, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld officially entered the race, and last month, former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh announced his candidacy.

Sanford, discussing what was then a potential candidacy, told CNN's Brianna Keilar in July there has been "no discussion of debt, deficit and government spending in Washington these days," and that those issues would be a focal point of his campaign were he to run. However, although Sanford has been a frequent critic of Trump, he has said he would back the President instead of a Democrat.

Faces long odds

Sanford, who has been privately considering whether to run since leaving office in January, faces long odds in his bid against Trump, whose approval rating among Republicans has consistently been around 90%. His decision to challenge Trump comes after losing his primary race last year for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District where he failed to find support in the state's Republican Party as a vocal critic of the President.

In a campaign-style video released last month, Sanford warned of "a big storm coming" if the issues of debt, the deficit or government spending aren't prioritized.

"I just got through watching two Democratic debates that offered little more than a long laundry list of new political promises that we can't afford," Sanford says. "I listen to the President, who rules out action on the very things that drive our debt and spending."

America, he added, is "in the most precarious financial position" and "not dealing with it could crush our economy, it could wipe out whatever we've saved, it could even destroy our republic."

Sanford, who served two terms as governor of South Carolina, told CNN's Jake Tapper before entering that race that he was encouraged to run by people who "have said we need to have a conversation about what it means to be a Republican."

"Because the bent that we've been moving toward here of late is not consistent with the values and the ideals they believed in for a very long time," he said.