Republican former governor Mark Sanford once described Trumpism as "a cancerous growth" and is now seeking to challenge the president's reelection bid. Sanford said the Republican Party had "lost its way."
Former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford announced on Sunday that he would launch a challenge to President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election primaries.
"I am compelled to enter the Presidential Primary as a Republican for several reasons — the most important of which is to further and foster a national debate on our nation's debt, deficits and spending," Sanford said in a tweet announcing his candidacy.
Sanford is the third Republican to embark on a challenge against Trump, who enjoys high approval ratings among voters in his party. Former Congressman from Illinois Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld both announced their bids in the recent months.
"I think we need to have a conversation on what it means to be a Republican. I think that as the Republican Party, we have lost our way," the presidential hopeful said in an interview with US broadcaster Fox News.
A 'Never Trumper'
The 59-year-old Sanford has clashed with Trump in the past. During the 2016 campaign, he publicly questioned then-candidate Trump's motivations and qualifications for the job.
When Trump became the nominee, Sanford said he had "no stomach for his personal style and his penchant for regularly demeaning others." But the former governor ultimately voted for Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
In 2018, Sanford found himself in the crosshairs of the US president, as he sought reelection to the House of Representatives. His opponent, Katie Arrington, backed Trump and accused Sanford of being a "Never Trumper," a demeaning term for Republicans who reject the president.
Sanford lost to Arrington in a race that served as a cautionary tale for those who defy the president within the Republican Party.
Days after his first-ever political loss, Sanford described Trumpism as "a cancerous growth."
"We have a president that will tell numerous dis-truths in the course of a day, yet that's not challenged," Sanford said. "What's cancerous here is in an open political system, there has to be some measure of objective truth."
Democrats: 'Unpaid political promises'
Sanford took a shot at the current Democratic primary candidates and criticized them for not having a plan to alleviate out-of-control spending.
"As I have watched the Democrat debates, I hear no discussion, or even recognition, of what is occurring. Instead, I hear a laundry list of new unpaid-for political promises," the former governor said.
The Democratic primary for 2020 has been characterized by a large field of candidates featuring the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who have advocated for a more active role by the government on regulating big business and greater investments in health care and education.
But the current front-runner is Joe Biden, the former vice president in Barack Obama's administration. Biden has campaigned for national reconciliation and made the case that he is the best-suited candidate to defeat Trump in what is likely to be a bitter general election battle.
jcg/tj (Reuters, AFP, AP)