Sanford could be seen “debating” next to the cutout of Trump at three different stops around South Carolina Monday as he called on the state Republican Party to change course and hold a presidential primary next year, according to The Post and Courier.
“I don’t want to make this my only debate between myself and the president of the United States,” Sanford said as he gestured to the full-size cutout of Trump standing next to him.
Sanford’s stunt came after the South Carolina Republican Party’s executive committee decided this month not to have a GOP presidential primary, saying it would save an estimated $1.2 million — the amount the State Election Commission says holding the primary would cost taxpayers.
South Carolina is one of four states that have had their respective GOPs cancel presidential primaries.
Sanford said during one stop Monday that the state’s cancellation of the primary led him to question the strength of Trump’s support, according to The Post and Courier.
“Why in the world would the Trump administration not be insisting, and the Trump campaign not be insisting, that the primary take place? Because in the world of politics, if you have a chance to lock in a 90 percent win, particularly if you’re in the ‘first in the south’ primary, you do it,” Sanford said, adding this might suggest Trump’s support could be “a mile wide and perhaps an inch deep.”
Sanford also said his team is currently looking at every option to push for a primary, noting that a legal fight would be the last possibility.
Trump indicated earlier this month that he would not be open to debating any of his three Republican challengers, calling it a “publicity stunt.”
“To be honest, I’m not looking to give them any credibility,” Trump said.