CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Former First District Congressman and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said Monday he expects a “prolonged” legal battle on the road to final results of the 2020 presidential race.
“I think you’ll see all the legal wrangling, some of which are necessary, some of which won’t be,” Sanford said. He said he expects some ballots to be discarded before the results become official.
But, he says, in the end, he expects that it won’t be enough to result in President Donald Trump winning a second term.
“But you know, his persona is that of a fighter, and he has been awfully pejorative for a long time of ‘people being losers,’” Sanford said. “And so the idea of him accepting the idea that he could be a loser, like the rest of us - we we all have feet of clay and to some extent, I would argue, we’re all losers. The idea of him putting that mantle and wearing it is going to not sit well so I think he’s just gonna fight this thing to the end.”
Sanford said he thinks a resolution that comes sooner rather than later would be healthy for the country.
“I think the longer you let this thing sit out there, the longer people will lock into different conspiracy theories, which I think are dangerous in the one thing that matters,” he said. “Any of us as elected office holders are interchangeable at the end of the day. Our founding fathers set up a system that was predicated on our trust in traditions and institutions that allowed for the tug of war of politics to go on. And what we’re doing if we don’t watch out is undermining people’s trust in the larger institution of free and fair elections and if you do that, we got real problems.”
But Sanford said he does not believe there is a “grand conspiracy” to defraud the electoral process.
“Are there precincts that are at times troublesome? Are there counties that are times troublesome? Are there individuals that you know try and cheat the system? Yes, but this is the beauty what the founding fathers set up,” he said. “You know they set up an electoral system. It was not predicated on one giant databank in Washington, D.C. The electoral process in the United States of America is broken down to, again, a county and precinct level.”
Because of that, Sanford called it “reckless” to say “there’s just giant fraud.”
“Because if there is, then somebody has infiltrated at the county level, every county across the United States of America and come in to determine the electoral results, and I don’t think that that’s a plausible scenario,” he said.
Sanford said he was at his farm when his sister called to tell him that the Associated Press and others reported Biden as the projected winner of the race.
Sanford said Biden has, so far, handled the projected victory well.
“I think he’s been measured, I think he’s been calm. Those are good things,” Sanford said. “You put your heart and soul in these jobs so I understand some of the frustrations from the president, and I get that.”
But he said if there’s one person who beat Trump, “that’s Trump.”
“He just wouldn’t shut up on a whole host of things where you don’t need to pick every fight under the sun in the world of politics,” Sanford said. “And so he tuned out young millennials, they tuned out soccer moms, he tuned out a lot of working moms. And you tune out enough groups and there’s an electoral consequence.”
Last year, Sanford announced he was considering his own run for the White House, a plan he later dropped last November. Sanford now says it was “never a presidential run as presidential runs go.” But he said he wanted to start a conversation about what he called out-of-control spending.
“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?’” he said in November 2019. He also said the nation was “sleepwalking our way into the most predictable financial crisis in the history of man.”
“And so that was the attempt, it didn’t work out,” he said Monday. “It turns out that was a waste of time. But, but it was important to try to at least try and raise that flag.”
Sanford also spoke about the First District race that ended with Rep.-Elect Nancy Mace, a Republican State House member, defeating one-term Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham.
South Carolina is a Republican state that is beginning to trend slightly blue because of what he described as an “influx of folks coming in from the northeast and the upper Midwest.”
“But it’s still a Republican state so it was almost guaranteed to go back to the Republican hands in a presidential year,” Sanford said. “South Carolina was guaranteed to go red. When people pull that top lever for Trump, they don’t turn and pull the opposite lever in the Senate race, Congressional race, and so it was a function of turnout.”
Sanford also talked about the spending in the U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham and Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison.
“Money doesn’t change demographics, and the demographics of South Carolina, have been, you know, red for quite some time,” Sanford said.
The contest was propelled by an onslaught of spending from both candidates and a slew of third-party groups.
Harrison bested all Senate fundraising records, becoming the first candidate to amass a war chest of more than $100 million. Graham told The Associated Press he also raised about $100 million, with a third-quarter haul of $28 million representing a new GOP quarterly record.
Excessive amounts of money, particularly on the Democratic side, Sanford said, may have backfired on Harrison’s bid to defeat Graham.
“It made people in small towns and hamlets across South Carolina basically, wake up and say, ‘Wait a minute. Somebody in California who’s sending money in here is not going to decide my vote and what’s going to happen in my county,’” Sanford said. “And, in fact, I think it probably enhanced [Graham]'s lead rather than detracting from it, because it became a nationalized race, and, you know, we’re an independent a lot of South Carolinians, and we don’t like somebody else telling us what to do.”
Sanford served in the U.S. House from 1995 to 2001 and from 2013 to 2019. He was the governor of South Carolina from 2003 to 2011.