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As Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford was a favorite of the GOP’s conservative wing. Successful and pragmatic, he was an ideal leader to promote limited government on the national stage. Then, he took a fateful hike along the Appalachian Trail.
The outing was actually to Buenos Aires where he met his mistress; an adventure that devastated his socially conservative brand, not to mention his marriage. A few years later, he returned to politics as a congressman for the Palmetto State but soon criticized the Trumpward drift.
Then, apparently, Sanford launched a primary challenge to oust Trump from the White House. After three months of avoiding public appearances, making zero headlines, and gathering no support, he suspended his campaign Tuesday. (If it can be called a campaign.)
Standing outside the New Hampshire Statehouse surrounded by 15 members of the media and two staffers, the long-shot Republican closed down his campaign some 65 days after it began.
Holding an oversized trillion-dollar check to represent the national debt, Sanford said his singular focus in his 2020 bid had been to advance the debate on mounting government spending and addressing the deficit.
“But you’ve got to be a realist,” said Sanford, who spoke for just shy of 16 minutes….
“I’m going to suspend my campaign and I’m going to look for other ways to advance these incredibly timely and important but now out-of-season issues,” he said.
It’s hard to understand why Sanford entered in the first place. No one knew he was focused on the national debt because he never attempted to deliver a message. He threw away a singular opportunity by ducking the one GOP primary debate by claiming a “scheduling conflict.”
What possibly was more important than speaking to Republican voters? Fewer than 1,000 viewers watched the debate on Facebook, but it was a rare opportunity to at least try to make a case. Deliver a pithy sentence or two; at least anti-Trumpers would try to make it go viral.
But he didn’t show up to the debate, or anywhere else for that matter.
This leaves two GOP primary aspirants: Joe Walsh and William Weld. Perhaps they should start campaigning since few voters know they’re even running.