In a new video, former GOP Rep. Mark Sanford warned that a “big storm” is looming on federal spending and the debt and that people have suggested he mount a primary challenge to President Trump as a way of elevating those issues into the national conversation.
“I’m here to say that there’s a big storm coming,” Mr. Sanford said in the video released on Monday, saying the country is in a historically “precarious” position.
“Not dealing with it could crush our economy. It could wipe out whatever we’ve saved. It could even destroy our republic,” he said. “We’ve never had so much debt. We’ve never had this much spending. We’ve never had this much of our debt owned by foreign governments, and this is just the beginning of a long laundry list of financial worries.”
He said he plans to spend “the next few weeks” talking to friends “and getting their input on what we might do together to change things.”
“Some have suggested starting an advocacy group,” Mr. Sanford said. “Others have suggested running in the Republican primary against the president as a way of elevating the issue and changing the debate.”
“I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know we have to do something,” he continued. “I’d love your wisdom as I explore options and ideas.”
Mr. Sanford, a former congressman and governor of South Carolina, had emerged as one of the few conservatives on Capitol Hill willing to publicly criticize the president, before he lost a GOP primary contest in 2018.
He has previously said he was aiming to make a decision on whether to run for president by the end of the summer.
A primary challenge to Mr. Trump would be an exceedingly daunting task, given the president’s sizable campaign war chest and broad popularity among the GOP and conservatives.
In the new video, Mr. Sanford said no one in Washington, D.C., is really talking about the issues of spending and the debt — though there’s also little indication that voters of either party are clamoring for major action and would be willing to punish lawmakers or candidates who aren’t tackling the problem.
Mr. Sanford said the recent Democratic debates “offered little more than a long laundry list of new political promises that we can’t afford.”
The 2020 Democratic presidential contenders have been touting costly proposals like universal health care and free college, to be paid for in part by imposing new taxes.
He also said Mr. Trump has ruled out action on working to tame the debt and deficits.
The president just signed off on a budget deal that will allow Congress to spend about $320 billion more over the next two years compared to what’s allowed under current law — a package Congress cleared before lawmakers headed home for their August recess.