The Buzz

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford explains what he meant about Trump

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) addresses the overflow crowd at a town hall meeting in Mount Pleasant, S.C., Feb. 18, 2017. Congressional Republicans have strained to quell boiling anger with the Trump administration at events like this one, though Sanford’s willingness to disparage the president won him some acclaim here.
Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) addresses the overflow crowd at a town hall meeting in Mount Pleasant, S.C., Feb. 18, 2017. Congressional Republicans have strained to quell boiling anger with the Trump administration at events like this one, though Sanford’s willingness to disparage the president won him some acclaim here. NYT

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford did something unusual for a Republican this week, putting politeness over party in saying President Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric is partly to blame for the shooting that has left one congressman critically injured.

His remarks did not go over well with Republican activists who jeered at him in Facebook posts and on Twitter.

Including one GOP state lawmaker in his district rumored to have an interest in his seat:

“What is most appropriate for this ridiculousness: OMG, WTF, SMH, GMAB or, of course, FML bc he’s my congressman now,” tweeted S.C. Rep. Katie Arrington, R-Dorchester.

Sanford said “sensational media headlines” falsely made it look as though he blamed Trump for the shooting – absolutely not true, he said.

Talking to Anderson Cooper in one of several interviews last week explaining what he meant, Sanford said, “The blame can go on the Republican side, it can go on the Democrat side, but when the president says to somebody in the audience, ‘I wish I could hit you in the face. If not, why don’t you do it and I’ll pay your legal fees,’ we ought to call it for what it is. That’s a problem,” he said.

Sanford declined Friday to offer his assessment of how Trump and his administration have been handling an investigation into Russian interference into the U.S. election.

(The Buzz guesses the congressman did not want to spend another few days explaining himself.)

But he did tell The Buzz, more generally, “We all need to be careful in walking back from the edge of the precipice because what we are playing with is highly, highly fiery stuff.”

That fiery stuff “has destroyed any number of open governments over the years,” he said, warning against the tribalism that is creating an us-versus-them mentality where reason and objective analysis of issues go out the window.

Asked whether he’s worried his Trump comments may cause him trouble if any Republicans try to run against him, Sanford said, “What will be will be. I’ve always tried to play it down the middle ... representing the taxpayer, representing the conservative cause. I’ve done 12 town hall meetings.”

But, as he noted in quoting a political adage, “If you’re explaining in politics, you’re losing, right?”

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