Donald Trump’s 2020 primary challenge is already awash in controversy

Former South Carolina Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford has been deciding whether he should run against Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020. Sanford lost his House seat after Trump mocked him about a prior scandal and urged voters to back his Republican opponent in the primary last year. As for running against Trump for the nomination, it seems Sanford is already doing a fine job of kneecapping his own candidacy — before he has even determined if he will go through with it.

When MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked Sanford earlier this month about whom he would vote for if the election is between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, Sanford muttered, “I mean, again, I am a Republican…” and continued to hedge. Matthews wouldn’t have it. Reminding Sanford that Biden is a more moderate Democrat and that Sanford is supposedly “out there to knock Trump off,” Matthews pressed him further: “You’d go Trump over Biden?” Finally, Sanford committed to an answer: “I would.”

Sanford then had a similar exchange with Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” this past Sunday. After praising the Republican Party for its “great lineage of historically doing some great things right,” Sanford expressed his concern that “it’s gone off the tracks of late. We have a cult of personality right now,” referring to the man who derailed his Congressional career last year.

Todd cut to the chase, asking Sanford whether Trump has “earned reelection yet” and if “he deserves reelection.” Sanford answered no to both questions, insisting that Trump is “taking us in the wrong direction.” Then, just as Matthews had done, Todd asked Sanford if he would support Trump if he becomes the nominee, even over the more moderate Biden. Sanford again said he would vote for Trump—simply because “I’m a Republican.”

Having just visited New Hampshire and talked with voters there, Sanford told ABC News on Wednesday that he is feeling confident about the idea of challenging Trump for the nomination and that he will make his decision by Labor Day. In the meantime, Sanford has basically made it clear that his stance on Trump can be summarized as follows: “Trump is totally unfit for office—but of course I’ll support him no matter what.” Apparently, Sanford wants to have it both ways so badly that he has thrown logic over his shoulder and into the wastepaper basket. Sanford might as well just quit while he’s behind.

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