Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford is delaying his announcement of a possible presidential challenge against President Donald Trump in the Republican primary.
Sanford, who had previously said he would make a decision on whether to run by Labor Day, told the Post and Courier that he is focused on Hurricane Dorian at the moment. His campaign later put out a statement on the decision to put off a potential announcement.
“As Governor he dealt with many storm preparations, and given the gravity of this storm, he encourages residents along the East Coast to pay heed to the warnings and declarations of state and county emergency operation teams,” the campaign said in a press release.
“The reception has been more embracing than I thought it might have been,” Sanford said of announcing his interest.
If Sanford were to run, he would join two other Republicans seeking to bring down Trump from within the Republican Party. Former U.S. representative Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) announced his candidacy last month and former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld has been running since February.
Trump has already launched attacks on Sanford, calling the former South Carolina governor “Mr. Appalachian Trail” on Twitter last week while touting his support in the Republican Party. The nickname comes in reference to Sanford’s 2009 scandal when the governor disappeared to South America with an Argentinian mistress while staff claimed he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Sanford, who most recently served in the U.S. House of Representatives before losing a primary challenge against a Trump-endorsed challenger, has said he would steer away from taking the president’s bait into exchanging personal attacks and instead would keep the focus of any presidential campaign on the country’s ballooning debt and deficits.
“I think the spending issue is bigger than Trump’s personality,” Sanford told The Federalist.
Sanford stayed true to his message, responding to the president by turning attention back on the country’s dark financial outlook.
So ready for a President that can move beyond either self praise or put down to one who will focus on the debt & deficit that have gone wild under his time in office. Spending 27% above Obama & deficits even higher. It’s time for a change. https://t.co/oghlZQxAfL
— Mark Sanford (@MarkSanford) August 28, 2019
“So ready for a President that can move beyond either self praise or put down to one who will focus on the debt & deficit that have gone wild under his time in office,” Sanford wrote back.
Trump does indeed enjoy an overwhelming level of support within the Republican Party against any primary challenger, but some Republican voters have reported wanting to see the president face a serious competitor for the 2020 presidential nomination. A Hill-HarrisX survey from June shows that 44 percent of Republican voters want to see a primary emerge, 12 percent higher than Democratic voters wanted to see President Barack Obama compete in a primary in 2012.