Did Donald Trump contribute to the most surprising defeat of South Carolina's primary Tuesday?
U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford thinks so, adding there will be consequences for the country if it accepts the president's "lies," or so the soon-to-be-former congressman says on Sunday's "Meet the Press" TV news show..
"If we accept that as a society, it is going to have incredibly harmful consequences in the way that we operate going forward," Sanford told "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, according to a transcript of the prerecorded segment of the show.
Tuesday, the president tweeted his support for state Rep. Katie Arrington of Summerville just hours before the polls closed in her contentious 1st District congressional primary race against incumbent Sanford, R-Charleston.
Trump interjected himself into the race because the former S.C. governor has, on occasion, criticized the president.
"Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA," the president tweeted, using the initials for his "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan.
"He is MIA and nothing but trouble," Trump said.
Then, the tweet got personal, with Trump saying Sanford is "better off in Argentina."
Sanford secretly traveled to Argentina to see his mistress in 2009, while famously claiming to be hiking on the Appalachian Trail. The publicity around that trip destroyed Sanford's marriage, but he still was able to win election to his former seat in Congress in 2013.
In the GOP primary campaign, Arrington often criticized Sanford for his differences with Trump.
"I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love," Trump continued in his tweet. "She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!"
But that wasn't the end of it.
After Arrington won the primary, and told supporters that the GOP was now the party of Trump, the president tweeted again, saying he had defied the advice of his advisers in getting involved in the Arrington-Sanford race.
"My political representatives didn’t want me to get involved in the Mark Sanford primary, thinking that Sanford would easily win," Trump tweeted, without saying who did not want him to get involved. But, the president added, he decided "Sanford was so bad, I had to give it a shot."
On "Meet the Press," Sanford reviewed his loss.
Sanford told Todd that there had been "incredible consequences" to his Argentine affair — "financially, politically, socially."
But, Sanford added, Trump suffers no consequences for his "lies."
"And, so, maybe the reason I'm so outspoken on this now is there is no seeming consequence to the president and (his) lies," Sanford said as he predicted harmful consequences for society.
Asked why other GOP leaders — besides Sanford, and U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee — have not spoken out against Trump, Sanford replied, "People are running for the hills. And again everybody … what you do as an elected official is … an old-time senator told me years ago, the name of the game is staying in the game."
SC's first openly gay lawmaker makes history — again
Jason Elliott made history in 2016 when he became the first openly gay man elected to the S.C. House.
Elliott also made headlines, which bothered at least some constituents who thought the Greenville Republican hadn't been forthcoming about the fact that he was gay during his election bid.
Tuesday, Elliott faced two GOP primary challengers who campaigned — at least in part — on the issue of the incumbent's sexuality.
But most GOP primary voters were unconcerned, and Elliott won nomination for a second term with 58 percent of the vote.
Elliott told supporters Tuesday that his win shows the Republican Party has changed.
“We’ve reached a point that we can shut the door on that narrative," Elliott said, according to the Greenville News. "People who go to work and do their job get a contract extension.”
It wasn't the first challenge Elliott has faced on the issue. In 2016, a write-in campaign was launched against the unopposed Republican by Brett Brocato, who also challenged Elliott in this year's primary.
Elliott won the seat by defeating socially conservative state Rep. Wendy Nanney in a primary, criticizing her for what he called her absenteeism in the House. The House district includes Bob Jones University, a conservative evangelical institution.
GOP runoff debate set
The top two candidates in the GOP governor's race will meet one more time before voters choose between them in a runoff.
Gov. Henry McMaster and John Warren will debate Wednesday at the Newberry Opera House. The 7 p.m. debate is being sponsored by SC ETV, the Post and Courier and S.C. Public Radio.
The debate falls a week after Warren forced McMaster into a runoff in the GOP primary, and a week before GOP runoff voters will decide between the two men on June 26.
McMaster, who has been a fixture in S.C. politics for decades, won 42 percent of the vote Tuesday. That was good enough for first in the five-candidate GOP field but not good enough to avoid a runoff against Warren. The Upstate businessman, seeking his first elected office, came in second, winning 28 percent of the vote.
In the days since Tuesday's primary, some of the now ex-candidates in the governor's race have been positioning themselves behind one opponent or another, who hope they will bring their voters with them.
▪ In the Democratic race, state Rep. James Smith of Columbia consolidated some of his party's support after his primary win Tuesday.
Former candidate and Charleston businessman Phil Noble, who took some hard hits at Smith in the campaign, came out quickly to offer Smith his endorsement.
"James Smith and I have our differences," Noble wrote to his campaign email list Wednesday, "but I know he cares deeply about our state, and as our Democratic nominee, he is our best hope for altering its course.
"He has my full endorsement, and if he wants my help, he has it."
However, the runner-up in the Democratic primary, Florence attorney Marguerite Willis, had not endorsed Smith as of late Friday.
▪ On the Republican side, Greenville businessman John Warren on Thursday collected the endorsements of two-thirds of the rest of the GOP field for governor. Both Catherine Templeton and Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant endorsed Warren at a Columbia news conference.
"We've had tough battles over the past several months in the campaign, but we are unified," Warren said. "And we all agree that Gov. McMaster is not the right person to lead our state."
Former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill, who finished last with less than 2 percent of the vote, has not offered an endorsement in the race.
▪ Gov. Henry McMaster this week picked up the endorsements from a slew of state legislators — state Sens. Chip Campsen, Mike Gambrell and Katrina Shealy, and state Reps. Shannon Erickson, Bill Herbkersman, Weston Newton, Jeff Bradley and Jay West.