Only one person showed up at Mark Sanford’s official campaign launch against President Trump in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday.
Sanford announced in September his intention to launch a Republican primary bid against the president, telling Fox News’s Chris Wallace that we “need to have a conversation on what it means to be a Republican”:
— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) September 8, 2019
Sanford officially launched his campaign in Philadelphia on Wednesday, accompanied by an oversized check for “one trillion dollars” and a single individual (who was not a reporter, an aide, or a family member). The campaign launch doubled as a kickoff of his 3,500-mile tour across 11 states, dubbed “Kids, We’re Bankrupt and We Didn’t Even Know It”:
We began our trip this morning in Philadelphia. Our Founding Fathers designed a 3-legged stool to keep freedom alive – sustainable spending, separated power & enough civility to keep us talking as Americans. Lose these things & we lose our civilization. https://t.co/eUjLtprvg2
— Mark Sanford (@MarkSanford) October 16, 2019
Anna Orso, who covered Sanford’s launch for the Philadelphia Inquirer, noted that she was the only reporter there.
According to the report:
And when it began, the only others around besides his two aides were a family 30 yards away with a selfie stick and a group of students from Paris who wanted to know why he had such a big check. (Answer: It represented the burden of the national debt.)
Besides me, news conference attendees included two photographers — including a Philadelphia Inquirer photographer — and a 6ABC cameraman who showed up briefly. (“I’ll talk to about 250,000 people in just a second,” Sanford said to me as the cameraman approached with his tripod.) No other local TV station showed up to the kickoff spot, even though Fox 29 is studio is a block away. CBS3 and NBC10’s studios were within two miles of Sanford’s news conference.
She said Sanford only spoke with one person who did not happen to be an aide, journalist, or the curious foreign students:
I went to Mark Sanford's presidential campaign kickoff in Philly and only one person besides me and a couple photographers showed up :/ https://t.co/FB24ytpS3W
— Anna Orso (@anna_orso) October 16, 2019
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ONE PERSON SHOWED UP TO MARK SANFORD’S CAMPAIGN KICKOFF HAHAHAHAHA https://t.co/uUAiJIuAB5
— Chris Barron (@ChrisRBarron) October 17, 2019
“Nobody knows me in Philadelphia. I get it,” Sanford said, according to Orso. “I think in life we all do what we can do, what’s within our power to have an effect. So we’re just sort of moving along as we go along.”
Sanford, who is running his campaign, largely, on the issue of debt, is reportedly funding his longshot bid with leftover congressional campaign funds. He hopes to differentiate himself from Trump by displaying “empathy and humility,” according to Orso.
The former South Carolina governor is, perhaps, most well known for his “Appalachian Trail” scandal in 2009, disappearing for six days to visit his mistress in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His office claimed, during his absence, that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.
The scandal did not sink his political career. He dodged impeachment and was later elected to the South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District in 2013 and served until 2019. Trump took partial credit for Sanford’s loss.
“When the former Governor of the Great State of South Carolina, @MarkSanford, was reported missing, only to then say he was away hiking on the Appalachian Trail, then was found in Argentina with his Flaming Dancer friend, it sounded like his political career was over,” Trump tweeted in September.
“But then he ran for Congress and won, only to lose his re-elect after I Tweeted my endorsement, on Election Day, for his opponent,” Trump continued.
“But now take heart, he is back, and running for President of the United States. The Three Stooges, all badly failed candidates, will give it a go!” he added:
…but then he ran for Congress and won, only to lose his re-elect after I Tweeted my endorsement, on Election Day, for his opponent. But now take heart, he is back, and running for President of the United States. The Three Stooges, all badly failed candidates, will give it a go!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2019
Sanford joins fellow Republican primary challengers Joe Walsh and Bill Weld, both of whom have been unable to generate a significant campaign buzz. What is more, a handful of states, including South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, and Kansas, are planning to cancel the Republican primary in 2020, further reducing the presidential hopefuls’ chances of realistically challenging Trump.