(Bloomberg) -- Mark Sanford said he’s exploring a bid for the 2020 Republican nomination since Donald Trump doesn’t deserve re-election -- but that he’d still vote for the president over a Democrat.
“He’s taking us in the wrong direction,” Sanford said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, citing business investments “cratering” over the past few months because “nobody knows what’s going to come next” on Trump’s trade policies or other White House initiatives.
Sanford, a former U.S. representative from South Carolina, narrowly lost a 2018 primary after Trump endorsed his opponent and tweeted on election day that the lawmaker was “nothing but trouble.”
He’s been floating the idea of challenge to Trump for some time, but said Sunday it’s not a vanity project.
Joining the race would be a way to help the Republican Party, which has a “great lineage,” but has “gone off the tracks,” said Sanford, 59, who finished his second term as South Carolina governor under a cloud after the revelation of an extramarital affair. Sanford went to New Hampshire, a state with an early primary, last week for meetings with local party leaders.
“The idea of going out and possibly being a human pinata is hardly a vanity project,” Sanford said. He said he wouldn’t consider running as an independent.
Opinion polls have consistently showed Trump with support of 80% to 90% among those who identify as Republicans. The party in some states is considering modifying or canceling the 2020 caucuses.
Drew McKissick, head of South Carolina’s Republican Party, said in a statement in July that, “The last time Mark Sanford had an idea this dumb, it killed his governorship.”
At least one other Republican, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, has said he would mount a primary challenge to Trump in 2020.
Sanford said that if he launches a long-shot bid and fails, he’d still vote for Trump. “I’m a Republican,” he said.
(A earlier version was corrected to show that Sanford served out his second term as South Carolina governor.)
(Updates with William Weld primary bid in ninth paragraph.)
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