Mark Sanford, the Republican former governor of South Carolina has become the latest candidate to throw his hat into the ring for the Republican nomination for president. Sanford announced his candidacy Sunday morning with an appearance on Fox News Sunday and a tweetstorm on Twitter.
“I think we have to have a conversation about what it means to be a Republican,” Sanford told Fox News, adding that the party “has lost our way.”
Sanford tweeted that he was entering the race for several reasons. In particular, he cited the national debt, calling it America’s mounting red ink “a collision course with financial reality.”
The governor noted correctly in another tweet that Democrats offer a “laundry list of new unpaid for political promises” while “on the Republican side, spending is up well above President Obama.” President Trump, he points out, “has ruled out action on the very things that drive spending and accumulated debt.”
On Fox News, Sanford criticized the president even more directly, saying, “We need to have a conversation about humility” and that tweeting “is not leadership.”
When asked by Chris Wallace about his own infamous indiscretion, a 2009 affair while he was in his second term as governor of South Carolina that involved a weeklong disappearance, Sanford said that he had “profoundly apologized for that” and contrasted his repentant attitude with President Trump’s behavior regarding his multiple affairs.
The three Republican challengers now run the gamut from libertarian moderate William Weld to fiery former Trump supporter, Joe Walsh. Sanford’s entry into the race adds a conservative, traditional Republican to the mix.
Sanford’s strengths include a strong record on pro-life and gun issues, a proven ability to win elections, and a pro-business background. His biggest weaknesses are his affair, which will do little to entice women back to the Republican Party, and the fact that he isn’t Donald Trump, who still commands heavy support in the GOP.
In fact, Sanford may not be able to get on the ballot in his home state. South Carolina is among the states that have announced the cancellation of their 2020 Republican primaries. Along with the Palmetto State, Arizona, Kansas, and Nevada are choosing to go all-in on President Trump.
Sanford admits that defeating Trump will be a long shot, saying, “I don’t think anybody’s going to beat Donald Trump.” Nevertheless, he says, “This is the beginning of a long walk, but it begins with a first step.”
Sanford’s best chance will come if Donald Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior finally alienates his base and the trade war continues to slow the economy. With the president’s fortunes seemingly in a downward spiral, the GOP may well see the need for a new champion between now and the primaries. If that happens, Mark Sanford will be waiting in the wings.