“Why should my voice be taken away?” Rebublican presidential candidate Mark Sanford asked during a visit to Greenville on Monday.
The former South Carolina governor held a press conference at One City Plaza to call for the South Carolina Republican Party to reverse its recent decision to cancel next February's presidential primary.
Such a cancellation is not without precedent, having occurred twice in recent memory – in 1984 during the Reagan presidency and twenty years later during George W. Bush's term in office.
About a dozen people, half of whom were members of the media, gathered at 9:30 to hear from Sanford, who is the third man to announce a primary challenge to President Donald Trump. The other two GOP challengers are former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh.
“Debate is vital to sustaining the democratic tradition,” said Sanford as he stood next to a cardboard cutout of the president. He added, “We ought to have a debate as Republicans as to where we're going.” He said that the GOP needs to go in a different direction from the one that Trump is leading it.
Sanford asserted that the state party broke its own written rules when it voted to cancel the primary. He read from Rule 11(b) – “Unless decided otherwise by the state party convention within two (2) years prior to each presidential election year, the South Carolina Republican Party shall conduct a statewide presidential preference primary . . .”
“The committee is breaking its own rules in doing this,” said Sanford. He encouraged people to email state GOP chairman Drew McKissick to ask that the primary be reinstated. Sanford has not ruled out a legal challenge, although he is reluctant to go that far and said that such a move would be a last resort.
Although Sanford admits that his candidacy is a long shot, he noted that, while attending a recent USC football game, a number of people came up to him to express their support.