CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Earlier this week, former Congressman and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford pulled the plug on the longshot presidential campaign he announced in September.
“I said upfront, 'I can’t win. I’m not going to become president I knew that,” he said this week.
He announced on Tuesday that he was ending the presidential bid, which many called a “long shot.” But the former first district Congressman insists he had a bigger goal: to catapult the topic of government spending into the national discussion.
“It was a totally preposterous proposal, and that was by running could you get interjected into this debate, some measure of conversation on the debt and deficit and government spending," he said. “The thing that’s not being talked about in this president to race, on the Democratic side or the Republican side, is, ‘How do we pay for all this stuff?’”
Despite the importance of that discussion, Sanford said the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump made it clear it was time to suspend his effort, which he explained in a Facebook post. The post read in part:
I am suspending my race because impeachment has made our goal of making the debt, deficit and spending issue a part of this presidential debate impossible right now. From the start, I was fully aware of how hard it would be to elevate these issues with a sitting president of my own party, but what was hard has moved to herculean as nearly everything in Republican Party politics is currently viewed through the prism of impeachment.
But Sanford objected to the term “stunt” for his presidential bid.
“When you talk about something that’s going to dearly cripple the American dream for a lot of kids in the Lowcountry as our debt will, it ain’t a stunt. It’s about, ‘Boys and girls, we better start talking about this,'" he said.
The question that remains, however, is whether the American voter cares about the national debt and deficit spending. Sanford said the answer to that is clear.
“No, we’re sleepwalking our way into the most predictable financial crisis in the history man,” a phrase he has repeated often over the past few months. “And Lowcountry folk, South Carolinians and people living in California in between are being disserved by a political infrastructure that won’t raise this real issue as a part of this debate. On the Democratic side, it’s a debate of more versus more, and the Republican side it’s the three monkeys, if I hear no evil, we won’t talk about it."
He said he would continue to look for ways to get the message, something he says is at the core of his beliefs, to the American people. When he made the attempt official in September, he acknowledged that he was not certain a presidential run was the way to get a real conversation about debt and spending started, suggesting that he might otherwise start an advocacy group.
Sanford first announced he was mulling a presidential bid in mid-July and said he planned to announce within a month whether to enter the race. He postponed his announcement until after Hurricane Dorian.
By the time he announced his decision to challenge Trump, the South Carolina Republican Party’s State Executive Committee had announced it would not hold a primary in 2020. SCGOP Chairman Drew McKissick referred to Sanford’s attempt to unseat Trump as a “vanity project,” adding that South Carolina Republicans “overwhelmingly support President Trump.”