Gonna be super awkward when Justin Amash wins the Libertarian Party nomination hoping to challenge Trump in the general, only to find himself facing his buddy and new Republican nominee Mark Sanford.
Meh. How many different Republicans have considered primarying Trump over the past two years only to decide against it? Kasich, Hogan, maybe Bob Corker, maybe Jeff Flake, maybe Justin Amash right now (although he doesn’t count as a Republican anymore). Only Bill Weld has decided it’s worth the bother. I strongly suspect Sanford will end up passing too.
Then again, none of them endured the humiliation of losing a congressional primary to a Trump-backed challenger. Trump helped oust Sanford from his congressional seat — which ultimately went to a Democrat — for no grander reason than that Sanford was a tad too free and easy about criticizing the president. Maybe Sanford’s decided that it’s payback time. He can’t win a presidential primary but he can use the soapbox it provides to try to start making the case early against a second Trump term.
Sanford, in an exclusive interview Tuesday with The Post and Courier, confirmed he will take the next month to formulate whether he will mount a potential run against Trump as a way of pushing a national debate about America’s mounting debt, deficit and government spending…
“Sometimes in life you’ve got to say what you’ve got to say, whether there’s an audience or not for that message,” Sanford said. “I feel convicted.”…
“I’m a Republican. I think the Republican Party has lost its way on debt, spending and financial matters,” he said.
That’d be an interesting message for a primary challenge, and traditional in more ways than one. Traditional, of course, in the sense that the GOP pretended to care — a lot — about debt and spending during the Obama era. But traditional too in the sense that this is an old-fashioned reason to primary a president, to force him and the party to pay closer attention to your pet issues. No one but no one on the right is holding Trump’s feet to the fire on spending apart from Amash occasionally. The left and the media want to see someone primary Trump because they’re expecting that challenge to be about “values” and “honor,” how Trump has degraded the office of the presidency, which the Democrats can use to their own advantage in the general election. Sanford, however, might skip the moralizing (mostly) and focus instead on a “Do we care about spending or don’t we?” campaign. He’ll lose bigly either way but he might very well draw more protest votes running on a nuts-and-bolts “shrink government” message than on an “Orange Man bad” Resistance-style pitch.
Anyway, Amash is psyched:
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) July 16, 2019
A Sanford challenge in the primary and an Amash challenge in the general might be dangerous for Trump given how similar the two candidates’ politics are. Anyone galvanized by Sanford in the primary should be willing ideologically to redirect their votes to Amash next November. To the extent Sanford manages to pique the interest of some conservatarian voters in the campaign, Amash may ultimately benefit, which is trouble potentially for Trump in a tight race with Joe Biden or whoever. And Sanford could make things *mildly* (emphasis: mildly) interesting in the South Carolina primary, since that’s his home state. There was chatter awhile back that the South Carolina GOP might go full cuck and cancel next year’s primary altogether in the interest of sparing the king from having to lift a finger there to win the state, but maybe they’ll be less inclined to do that when one of their own is on the potential ballot.
Either way, it’ll be fun watching Trump attack Sanford on Twitter for his gubernatorial scandal, oblivious to his own hypocrisy: “Can’t trust leaders who aren’t faithful to their wives! Sad!” And if you don’t think he’d stoop to hypocrisy quite that blatant, I remind you that he’s spent the last few days on Twitter pretending to be offended by some of the “filthy” language used by members of the Squad. This, from the guy responsible for the “Access Hollywood” tape, who was known to use “MFer” in speeches during his first brief vogue in politics in 2011.
By the way, since the federal deficit is momentarily and briefly a topic today thanks to Sanford:
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) projected in its midyear review Monday that the federal deficit would surpass $1 trillion this year.
Why it matters: It’s the first time the U.S. deficit has exceeded the $1 trillion level since the 4-year period following the Great Recession. When President Trump was a presidential candidate, he promised to wipe out the deficit and also the entire federal debt, which has surpassed $22 trillion.
It’s downright phenomenal that we’re managing to run a 13-digit deficit during a booming economy, when job growth has been galloping for many months. It’s almost miraculous. Congratulations to both parties but especially to Trump and the GOP, which cut the hell out of taxes and forgot the part about cutting spending too. The official funeral for the tea party will be Sanford primarying Trump and then South Carolina Republicans canceling their primary in order to avoid an uncomfortable debate about … federal spending and debt