President Donald Trump has another primary challenger: Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.
He joins Bill Weld, the former Massachusetts governor who has been running since April, and former one-term Illinois congressman and resident Never-Trumper Joe Walsh.
Proving that shame has a short shelf life in politics, Sanford said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” that the Republican Party “has lost our way,” before dropping a gem of a line.
“I think we have to have a conversation about what it means to be a Republican,” said Sanford.
This being the former state governor who disappeared for a week in 2009 while his aides covered for him by saying he was hiking the Appalachian Trail — in truth, the married politician secretly slipped off to Argentina to be with his girlfriend.
Sanford called the girlfriend, Maria Belen Chapur, his “soulmate” and the affair ended his marriage. The torrid new romance would end in 2014 after the Argentinian woman grew tired of waiting for Sanford to marry her and stripping away the title of mistress.
The relationship has reportedly been off and on since. The couple was photographed in 2017 sitting together at Miami International Airport.
Seen as a budget hawk in his better days, Sanford is pushing that angle in challenging Trump.
The long-shot candidate told Fox News host Chris Wallace, “The thing that has been lacking in this debate has been an earnest and real conversation on debt and deficits in government spending.”
He echoed that sentiment in showing the bad judgement of turning to Twitter in an attempt to justify his candidacy.
“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 tweeted.
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.
— Mark Sanford (@MarkSanford) September 8, 2019
You’ll have to excuse President Trump for not being impressed.
Seeing it coming last month, he lumped a Sanford challenge in with the other two Republicans, characterizing the trio as the “Three Stooges.”
And yes, Trump referenced the romantic excursion to Argentina — because that’s what he does — assigning Sanford one of his infamous nicknames: “Mr. Appalachian Trail.”
“Can you believe it? I’m at 94% approval in the Republican Party, and have Three Stooges running against me. One is ‘Mr. Appalachian Trail’ who was actually in Argentina for bad reasons….” the president tweeted on August 27.
Can you believe it? I’m at 94% approval in the Republican Party, and have Three Stooges running against me. One is “Mr. Appalachian Trail” who was actually in Argentina for bad reasons….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2019
Among the hurdles the three challengers face in trying to kneecap the incumbent Republican president is that a number of states, including Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, and South Carolina, are looking to do away with their state primaries.
One thing is certain, with Sanford’s scandalous past, Twitter can be a brutal place to announce that you’re mounting a challenge to Trump — and social media users didn’t disappoint.
Here’s a sampling of responses from Twitter:
There are better ways for you to spend your time this year, @MarkSanford.
I hear the Appalachian Trail is lovely in September pic.twitter.com/0parSmvAfl
— Will Chamberlain (@willchamberlain) September 8, 2019
Try running in Argentina with your soulmate.
— 🔫🇺🇸Dan Marion 👌♉️🥁📞💻 (@dm1299) September 8, 2019
Campaign office in Argentina?
— Chee (@CheeOji) September 9, 2019
Hopefully you don’t run off with another Argentinian mistress like you did while you were the governor of South Carolina!
— Ashley StClair 🇺🇸 (@stclairashley) September 8, 2019
I hope you don’t run off to South America again during the Campaign. You do have what it takes to run against President Trump though. Being humiliated has never bothered you and you certainly know how to lose! 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/zVFpZ0CF5Y
— David Jones (@DavidJones894) September 8, 2019
Hey, how’s the soulmate?
— Latentem (@Latentem) September 8, 2019
I’m looking over your resume, and I have… questions.
— Can of Spam (@iDoLikeSpam) September 8, 2019
Mark, you’d better check with @GOPChairwoman because I’m pretty sure that GOP is closed to new candidates. Trump is the candidate.
— 🇺🇸✝️ CleanVote Corp🗽✝️🇺🇸 (@PresWallace) September 8, 2019
This South Carolina Resident is voting #MAGA
I wouldn’t vote for you as dog catcher. 6 days you left our state and we had no clue where our governor was. Disgrace.
— Deplorable Marcia (@DeplorableMz) September 9, 2019
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