Just two months in, former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford announced he suspended his 2020 presidential primary challenge to President Donald Trump.
“I am suspending my race for the presidency because impeachment has made my goal of making the debt, deficit and spending issue a part of this presidential debate impossible right now,” Sanford said in a statement posted on Facebook Tuesday. “From Day 1, I was fully aware of how hard it would be to elevate these issues with a sitting president of my own party ignoring them. Impeachment noise has moved what was hard to hurulean [sic] as nearly everything in Republican Party politics is currently viewed through the prism of impeachment.”
At his press conference announcing his decision, Sanford noted that “all the oxygen is leaving the room in meaningful debate” and politics has turned into a “red versus blue team.”
Sanford emerged as a critic of Trump and his policies when he became president. His campaign focused on returning to “traditional” conservative values and focusing on America’s debt problem.
“The purpose of this campaign is to spark a needed conversation as Republicans on what it means to be a Republican, and a larger national debate on why spending and debt, our American institutions – and civility and humility should still matter in politics,” Sanford’s campaign website states.
His message failed to gain traction with Republicans, as he only raised $60,000 during this year’s third quarter. On the other hand, Trump raised over $125 million during the same time span, according to Axios.
From 2013 to 2019, Sanford represented South Carolina’s First Congressional District. However, he lost to Katie Arrington, a Trump-backed candidate in the Republican primary. Arrington ended up losing in the general election to Joe Cunningham (D-SC-01) by less than 4000 votes, or 1.4 percent.
As South Carolina governor, Sanford was considered a rising star in the Republican Party, but all that came to a halt in 2009 when he disappeared for six days in June. He told his staff at the time he was “hiking the Appalachian Trail.” It was later discovered he was visiting his mistress in Argentina. Sanford and his wife divorced soon after the revelation became public. He did not seek re-election in 2010, and was succeeded by Nikki Haley.
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