Scandal-plagued Mark Sanford becomes Trump’s third GOP primary challenger

Trump and Sanford

U.S. Representative Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina Governor, says he will challenge Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020.

The former governor is known for his “Appalachian Trail” cheating scandal and he lost his congressional election last fall after Trump made a personal attack against him hours before the polls closed.

He told the media that he has been gearing up for a presidential bid since July but he does not have a campaign staff or national infrastructure in place, yet.

“I’m just taking it a day at a time. This is a daunting task. I’ve acknowledged – I get all the different things that make it Herculean, and David and Goliath and all those sorts of things,” he said. “But you know, all you can do is what you can do, and today was about planting a flag.”

Sanford’s announcement came days after Republicans in his home state said they’re canceling the South Carolina primary and awarding every delegate to the sitting president.

Sanford said the move was ‘at least suspect’ but ‘not determinative’ to his decision to compete.

A senior Trump campaign official meanwhile asked “Who?” in a text message asking for a comment on Sanford’s entry into the race.

Since South Carolina and two other states said this week that they were cancelling their primaries so that they could award all their delegates to Trump, the chances that Sanford would be able to mount a successful challenge to the incumbent president lessened significantly.

However, he announced on Sunday that he’ll do it anyway. He wants to force a national conversation on the principles in the Republican Party.

“I’m here to tell you right now that I’m going to get in,” Sanford declared in a “Fox News Sunday” interview This ended speculation about a potential candidacy.

When he was asked what his “goals” were for his campaign, Sanford first said he wanted to draw attention to ballooning federal spending. He mentioned winning as a secondary objective.

“We’ve got multiple goals. First is can we infuse the debt/deficit/spending conversation into this national debate that we have once every four years, that’s currently not being talked about,” he replied. “Two, is can we win and do something about it.”

Sanford was cautious about challenging Republican Party officials in the state he represented in Congress, but said, “It’s at least suspect.”

“When you have somebody who allegedly has a 90 percent approval rating, and yet state parties are going to fairly great lengths to make sure that there’s not a competition within their state,” he said.

He also said that South Carolina’s decision to cancel its election is especially concerning, given its status as one of the first states each presidential cycle to cast ballots.

“It is what it is. But it certainly doesn’t signal strength,” he noted. “Again, at the end of the day it was not determinative for us. What we hope to foster is a much larger national debate.”

While focusing on his extremely high approval within the Republican Party, President Trump dismissed Sanford and the two others who have launched primary challenges –  Former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld – as a joke, dubbing them the “Three Stooges.”

“Can you believe it? I’m at 94% approval in the Republican Party, and have The Stooges running against me,” he tweeted in late August.

“One is ‘Mr. Appalachian Trail’ who was actually in Argentina for bad reasons,” he said in reference to Sanford.

“Another one is a one-time BAD Congressman from Illinois who lost in his second term by a landslide, then failed in radio,” he said in reference to Walsh.

“The third is a man who couldn’t stand up straight while receiving an award,” he said, referencing Weld. “I should be able to take them!”

Credit: Daily Mail