President Donald Trump on Monday trashed former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford’s newly announced bid for the Republican presidential nomination, dredging up Sanford’s years-old extra-marital affair and mocking his defeat in the 2018 midterm elections.
“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 tweeted.
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“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 continued, alluding to his support for Sanford’s GOP primary challenger, who wound up losing the Congressional seat to Democrat Joe Cunningham. “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!”
Sanford over the weekend became the third Republican to say he would challenge Trump in 2020, tweeting Sunday that he would focus his platform on fiscal austerity, federal spending and the need to address the nation’s mounting debt.
“We have a storm coming that we are neither talking about nor preparing for given that we, as a country, are more financially vulnerable than we have ever been since our Nation’s start and the Civil War,” Sanford wrote online. “We are on a collision course with financial reality. We need to act now.”
Trump’s tweets on Monday morning targeting Sanford came minutes after the candidate concluded an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” during which he defended his decision to take on the president.
Sanford declined to say whether he believes Trump is a Republican, pointed to polls he said showed roughly half of party members eager for a challenge to Trump, and claimed a robust primary debate would strengthen the GOP ahead of the general election.
“This is the equivalent of saying within the Republican Party, to all of those high school football teams across America, ‘Tell you what, guys: We are not going to scrimmage this week. We’ll be stronger by not scrimmaging. We’re just going to play on Friday night,’” Sanford said. “And the coach would say, ‘Are you completely out of your mind?’ The American way is premised on competition.”