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Will Mark Sanford make a 2020 run against Donald Trump? SC GOP says take a hike

Maayan Schechter and Emma Dumain, The State (Columbia, S.C.) on

Published in News & Features

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford is considering a 2020 primary run against President Donald Trump.

The South Carolina Republican Party's take? Take a hike -- on the Appalachian Trail, to be precise.

"The last time Mark Sanford had an idea this dumb, it killed his governorship. This makes about as much sense as that trip up the Appalachian trail," said S.C. GOP chairman Drew McKissick.

McKissick was referring to the time that Sanford, in his second term as governor in 2009, initially told his staff he was away hiking the Appalachian Trial but was actually on an extramarital tryst with an Argentinian woman. Sanford would go on to serve six years in Congress, sitting in the 1st District seat he originally held for three terms in the 1990s.

Sanford confirmed to The State on Tuesday he will decide within the next month whether he'll try to take on Trump. The news was first reported by The Post and Courier.

Trump and Sanford have a tense relationship that reached a fever pitch when Sanford was running for re-election to the U.S. House in 2018. In retaliation for Sanford's frequent expressions of disagreement -- even displeasure -- with the president, Trump retaliated by endorsing Sanford's Republican opponent, former state Rep. Katie Arrington, on Twitter on the day of the GOP primary. Arrington defeated Sanford that night but ultimately lost in the 2018 general election to now-U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham, a Democrat.

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Following Sanford's defeat, Trump proceeded to mock Sanford at campaign rallies around the country, even in South Carolina when he appeared at an event for Gov. Henry McMaster. Still, Trump's standing with the state's Republican establishment has only grown stronger over the past year. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is a frequent golf partner of the president and has become one of his staunchest allies on Capitol Hill.

On Tuesday, when asked what he thought of Sanford exploring a presidential bid, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., declined to comment.

Sanford could decide to move forward without any major in-state allies.

But in an interview with The State on Tuesday, Sanford vehemently denied that he was running against Trump out of revenge, or as a way of taking a stand against Trump's inflammatory rhetoric that Sanford, while in office, often decried as helping to unleash "inner demons" in the American public.

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