State Politics

After Tallahassee Trail remark, Mark Sanford says it's not a feud with Trump — it's 'assault'

Mark Sanford says he doesn't get it.

South Carolina's former governor, and soon-to-be former U.S. representative for the 1st District, said he does not know why he continues to be the object of scorn from President Donald Trump.

The president's latest swipe came Monday when he visited South Carolina, Sanford's home state. Trump was in Columbia to give support to Gov. Henry McMaster, who faced a runoff for the Republican primary Tuesday.

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Sanford is “a guy I’ve never liked much," Trump told the crowd at Airport High School.

Then he dug in, noting Sanford's infamous scandal while he was serving his final term as governor.

"Tallahassee Trail, it must be a very beautiful place. Unfortunately, he didn’t go there,” Trump said to the crowd.

Trump likely meant the Appalachian Trail. That's where Sanford said he was hiking when it turned out he was actually in Argentina having an extramarital affair.

After Sanford's loss in the primary, the president called him "a nasty guy" in a meeting with House Republicans, according to CNN. Trump's "nasty guy" comment was reportedly met with some "boos," Fox News reported.

For his part, Sanford can't explain why Trump is still criticizing him.

"I don't understand the president's preoccupation and focus on me for a number of days now on both my campaign and on my representation in Congress," Sanford told postandcourier.com, saying he wasn't sure why Trump referenced the Tallahassee Trail.

While Sanford has been a vocal critic of Trump, he said their dynamic is not "a feud" — instead calling it "assault," postandcourier.com reported.

Several of Sanford's Republican colleagues and members of the House Freedom Caucus have been unhappy with Trump's continued criticism of Sanford, according to thehill.com.

And the "Tallahassee Trail" jab drew a pointed response from the Caucus. The group issued a statement Monday on Twitter in support of Sanford. It did not mention Trump.

“Mark Sanford has been a strong, independent voice fighting for the people of South Carolina's 1st District. We continue to support him, he is a valued member of the House Freedom Caucus, and it's our honor serving with him. His thoughtful consideration of legislation and willingness to put constitutional principles ahead of the party line is commendable and will be missed."

One of Sanford's colleagues in the Freedom Caucus, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, told thehill.com that the group needs a stronger response to "Trump's rhetoric on the matter."

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, also a member of the House Freedom Caucus, agreed. He told thehill.com that "trashing" a fellow Republican doesn't make sense.

Sanford pointed to a danger in letting Trump dictate the Republican Party's identity with sound bites and tweets: "A buddy had called me about it last night, and he said 'well, I guess you know his account will be the one that wins the day,' " Sanford told CNN regarding the "nasty guy" comment. "And I said 'well, if that's true, we got a much bigger problem.' Because if truth is determined by whoever has the loudest microphone, then we have a fundamental crisis with regard to the way that our society works."

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