Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) announced plans in September to launch a primary challenge against President Trump. And on Wednesday, he kicked off his candidacy in Philadelphia, PA. The number of supporters who showed up to share in this momentous occasion? One. Not a typo.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Anna Orso reported:
The bell in the Independence Hall tower rang at 9 a.m., and Mark Sanford took a deep breath. He grabbed a giant check for “one trillion dollars,” stood next to a tiny wooden lectern, and asked me if I was ready for him to kick off a news conference announcing his bid to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican primary.
It didn’t really feel like a news conference. I was the only reporter there.
And when it began, the only others around besides his two aides were a family 30 yards away with a selfie stick and a group of students from Paris who wanted to know why he had such a big check. (Answer: It represented the burden of the national debt.)
Besides me, news conference attendees included two photographers — including an Inquirer photographer — and a 6ABC cameraman who showed up briefly. (“I’ll talk to about 250,000 people in just a second,” Sanford said to me as the cameraman approached with his tripod.) No other local TV station showed up to the kickoff spot, even though Fox 29′s studio is a block away. CBS3 and NBC10′s studios were within two miles of Sanford’s news conference.
Sanford told Orso, “Nobody knows me in Philadelphia. I get it. I think in life we all do what we can do, what’s within our power to have an effect. So we’re just sort of moving along as we go along.”
Orso said the sole supporter was the father of one of Sanford’s former students at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics where he became a teaching fellow shortly after leaving Congress. Bill Quinn, a retired lawyer and a Democrat, told Sanford that his daughter, a “progressive Democrat, admired Sanford for his integrity.”
Sanford told Quinn that he’s trying to contrast himself partly by tapping into that idea of integrity, and by expressing “empathy and humility.”
Sanford is perhaps best known for telling his staffers he would be away for a few days hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2009 while serving as South Carolina’s governor. For a period of six days, Sanford failed to check either his state or his personal phones. His actual destination, a visit to Buenos Aires to see his Argentinian mistress, soon became national news. That was ten years ago.
Today, one of the top hits on a google search of Sanford is a lengthy Wikipedia article entitled “Mark Sanford’s Extramarital Affair.”
In 2013, he ran in a special election for Rep. Tim Scott’s vacated seat (which Sanford himself had occupied in the 1990s) in Congress and won. After President Trump took office, Sanford became a very outspoken critic which likely sealed his defeat in his 2018 reelection bid.
His frequent condemnation of Trump came back to bite him. The President endorsed Sanford’s pro-Trump opponent in the 2018 primary and he lost.
Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA. He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina. I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love. She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2018
Sanford becomes the third Republican to challenge Trump. The others include former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh and former-Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and none of them stand a chance.