Former South Carolina Congressman and Gov. Mark Sanford told Fox News on Wednesday that he is close to making a decision on the 2020 race.
“I gave myself a month and I’m running up on that deadline,” Sanford told Fox in a New Hampshire interview. Sanford visited the state as a part of his plan to test the waters before trying to pull GOP support from President Trump. “People are politically aware here,” Sanford said. “More than any other state out there … this is a state where you can get a grassroots opinion real fast on a good idea, bad idea, go, no-go.”
Sanford’s primary gripe with Trump is fiscal. “I think we need to have a conversation as Republicans about what it means to be a Republican,” he said. “One of the cornerstones to the Republican Party historically was, do we spend beyond our means? Do we believe in some level of financial sanity? And that seems to have gone out of the window of late.”
“It’s a problem that he hasn’t used the microphone to talk about how profound this challenge is and how it’s going to hurt every one of us if we don’t do something about it,” Sanford said, calling out the POTUS. “He’s ruled out action on the very things that drive our debt and spending. It’s irresponsible.”
But Sanford is quite aware that he would be throwing a political Hail Mary. “I think you have to acknowledge up front that it’s a long shot,” he added. That may be an understatement: The University of New Hampshire has Trump polling at an 83 percent approval rate among Republicans in the Granite State.
If he decides to run, he will join a fellow Republican challenger — former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. Neither are Trump fans and both hope to energize what opposition Trump has among conservatives. To that end, Sanford is not being meek. His parting shot was against the commander-in-chief’s contentious demeanor.
“For all the credits and plusses the president may have, he’s got serious demerits with regard to tone,” Sanford said. “You cannot play the role of schoolyard bully and expect people to follow you. Leadership fundamentally at times is not about division and how we find contrast points, but it’s about inclusion and finding ways to work together.”
It looks like we will find out whether he is willing to put his money where his mouth is in the next couple of weeks.