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Mark Sanford to decide in two weeks if he'll challenge President Trump

The Republican says he wants to refocus his party on fiscal accountability.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford says he'll decide in two weeks if he'll challenge President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.

He sat down with News19's Darci Strickland in Columbia Wednesday for an interview. Sanford--who also served separate stints representing South Carolina's First Congressional District--said he's still not sure yet which way he'll go. 

"I'm still undecided, because it's a crazy, preposterous idea on many different levels," he said. "I think anybody's thinking that they can go ahead and beat Donald Trump in the Republican primary is kidding themselves."

Among that group is the head of the state Republican party, who called the idea of Sanford running "dumb."  During President Donald Trump's presidency, Sanford became an occasional critic of the president, something the president didn't like, and the two sometimes traded words.  In 2018, Sanford was defeated in the GOP primary for his seat. In the hours before polls closed on primary day, the president tweeted support for Sanford's opponent, Katie Arrington, and took some credit for Sanford's loss. 

But Sanford, who's long touted himself as a fiscal hawk and a reputation for going against the grain, has studied the numbers and says the reason he's considering a primary run against President trump makes sense--specifically, dollars and cents. He said right now, his party's not focuses enough on financial problems, including debt and the deficit, and he said his run could change that. 

"How do we elevate this larger issue about how we're spending as a country, how we're digging ourselves in this incredible debt coffin," he said. "Because it's not being talked about on the Democratic side it's not being talked on the Republican side."

He said government spending is continuing to rise. And while he acknowledged that we're in the longest economic recovery in U.S. history, and the economy is doing well, he said history shows we're overdue for a market correction. 

"This is the calm before the storm," Sanford said. "There is a law of averages for a reason we're going to flip on this thing fairly soon, and when it does, given what the fed has done, given what the federal government has done, there's not a lot of wiggle room to react to the next financial crisis."

Sanford said the country must get back to reigning in its spending. And he believes there are many who would agree with him. 

"I think the Republican party leadership may not care, but when I talk to a farmer in Saluda or a shrimper along the coast looking at the family budget around their kitchen counter, there's an innate level of common sense at the grass-roots level that still do care." 

He said if he doesn't run, he may start an advocacy group to advance the principles he cares about. 

To see the full interview, in which we ask him about what his sons think of a potential run and if he'd call out President Trump for certain comments, watch the video below. 

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