Donald Trump has another challenger from within his own party. Mark Sanford, the former governor and representative from South Carolina, announced today on Fox News Sunday that he’ll seek the Republican nomination for the 2020 presidential election.
Sanford became one of Trump’s fiercest critics among lawmakers, and the retribution was swift: He lost his congressional primary last year after an annoyed Trump urged voters to ditch him.
Sanford was regarded as one of the most fiscally conservative members of the House. After mulling a run for weeks, he said today that he’ll make the federal deficit—which has ballooned under Trump—his primary campaign issue:
As a Republican Party, we have lost our way, and I’d say so on a couple of different fronts. First and sort of the epicenter of where I’m coming from is that we have lost our way on debt and deficits and spending. One of the hallmarks of the Republican Party and the conservative movement has always been how much do we spend…I think as a party we’ve lost our way. The president has called himself the king of debt, has a familiarity and comfortable with debt that I think is ultimately leading us in the wrong direction.”
Sanford is not the first Republican to announce a primary challenge against Trump. On Aug. 25, radio talk-show host and former congressman Joe Walsh threw his hat in the ring, saying of Trump, “His lies are so numerous he can’t be trusted…He’s the worst of who we are.” And in April, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld also announced a primary challenge against Trump.
With Trump’s approval rating high among Republicans, Sanford and the others stand little chance of defeating him. Sanford could be further damaged by a scandal that occurred during his second term as governor, in which he admitted to having an extramarital tryst in Argentina after claiming he’d been hiking the Appalachian Trail. Last month Trump—who already considered Sanford a challenger—tauntingly called him “Mr. Appalachian Trail.”
While Trump hurls insults, the long-shot challengers are bringing attention to government spending and other issues. Sanford said, “We have got to have a national conversation—and a Republican conversation—on where we’re going on debt and deficit.”