- The Washington Times - Monday, September 9, 2019

Former Rep. Mark Sanford, who announced this week he is challenging President Trump for the GOP presidential nomination in 2020, on Monday pushed back against the notion that an intraparty challenge would be damaging for Mr. Trump.

“The American way is premised on competition, and political parties are only made better by competition,” Mr. Sanford, a former South Carolina governor, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“I think the party would be made stronger,” he said. “I think the eventual nominee would be made stronger by a robust debate of ideas, rather than simply saying, we picked our horse, we’re sticking with it, and we’ll see what happens come next November.”

Mr. Sanford on Monday declined to say who he would vote for if Mr. Trump does secure the GOP nomination.

“I’ll worry about it when I get there,” he said. “I’m an idea guy — I believe in ideas, and I’m going to pick the candidate that’s closest to what I believe in confronting this financial storm that’s coming our way.”

Mr. Sanford joined former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld and former Rep. Joe Walsh as the most prominent Republicans mounting long-shot bids for the White House in 2020.

Mr. Trump has labeled the trio the “Three Stooges.”

The president on Monday said it sounded like Mr. Sanford’s political career was over when his extramarital affair came to light in 2009 when he was governor of South Carolina.

“It was,….but then he ran for Congress and won, only to lose his re-elect after I Tweeted my endorsement, on Election Day, for his opponent,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter. “But now take heart, he is back, and running for President of the United States. The Three Stooges, all badly failed candidates, will give it a go!”

Mr. Sanford announced he is entering the race just as state Republican parties in places like South Carolina, Nevada and Kansas have moved to cancel or curtail their 2020 nominating contests.

Critics have said they’re trying to limit competition and are serving to protect a flawed candidate, but the parties have pointed to expected cost savings and past precedent of both parties moving to cancel their presidential nominating contests when they have an incumbent president running for reelection.

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