Republican Mark Sanford ends challenge to Trump, exits 2020 presidential race

Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File

Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File

Mark Sanford, the former governor of South Carolina and U.S. representative for the state, said Tuesday that he's ending his bid for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination.

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"Call me a casualty of the impeachment process," he told Politico on Tuesday. "On the Republican side, there is no oxygen in the room for other issues. And the purpose of the campaign was to try and raise and elevate a discussion and debate about where are we going as a country."

Sanford failed to gain much of a following during his 60-day run, The Post and Courier reported. Trump scoffed in September at his entrance to the race, reminding his Twitter followers of Sanford's infamous extramarital affair in 2009 and his failure to hold his Congressional seat against a challenge from Joe Cunningham in the 2018 Republican primary.

Sanford's campaign focused on the national debt, but he said Republicans were more interested in defending Trump from the threat of impeachment.

"It was a long-shot, but we wanted to try and interject this issue, how much we're spending, into the national debate which comes along once every four years," Sanford said, according to The Associated Press. "I don't think on the Republican side there is any appetite for a nuanced conversation on issues when there's an impeachment overhead."

Sanford was one of three Republicans to challenge Trump for the presidential nomination.

In February, former Massachusetts Gov. William "Bill" Weld announced a bid for the GOP presidential nomination. Former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., announced in August that he planned to run for the Republican presidential nomination.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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