Former congressman Mark Sanford said Tuesday that he is considering a presidential bid, making him potentially the second Republican to wage a primary challenge against President Trump.
In an interview on CNN, Sanford, a former South Carolina governor who represented the state’s 1st Congressional District in the House until earlier this year, said he was motivated to consider a bid due to the lack of debate over the federal debt and deficit.
“The place where there is no discussion is the way in which, you know, interest is the largest growing expense in the federal government,” Sanford said.
The news of Sanford’s potential run was first reported Tuesday by the Charleston Post and Courier.
“Sometimes in life you’ve got to say what you’ve got to say, whether there’s an audience or not for that message,” Sanford told the newspaper. “I feel convicted.”
Limiting government spending was a key focus of Sanford’s time in public office. But he is perhaps best known for the 2009 episode during which, as governor, he disappeared for nearly a week before reemerging to hold a tearful news conference at which he revealed an extramarital affair. Sanford’s staff had said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, but he had actually traveled to Argentina to be with Maria Belen Chapur, the woman he described as his “soul mate.”
Sanford had previously served three terms in the House and, after leaving the governor’s mansion in 2011, he ran for House again and won, serving from 2013 to 2019. He was a frequent critic of Trump, and in 2018, he lost his primary after the president endorsed his opponent, state Sen. Katie Arrington (R), who lost in the general election to Rep. Joe Cunningham.
Sanford said Tuesday that he is giving himself 30 days before making a final decision on whether to run for the White House. If he enters the race, he will join former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld (R) in challenging Trump for the GOP nod.
“I’m not sure that a presidential run is the way; maybe it’s starting an advocacy group,” Sanford told CNN, discussing the issue of federal spending. “But we have got to, again, register this in this presidential year — in this presidential race — in a way that it’s currently not finding currency. I think that’s a real problem.”