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Republican Mark Sanford Abandons Presidential Primary Run

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford speaks in Chantilly, Virginia September 19, 2013. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford ended his presidential campaign on Tuesday, just 60 days after announcing his candidacy.

Sanford had campaigned as a Republican in a long-shot bid to take on President Trump in the party’s primaries. The candidate failed to gain a large following and blamed media coverage of the impeachment inquiry into Trump for keeping attention focused on the President.

“You gotta be a realist, and what I did not anticipate is an impeachment,” Sanford told reporters at a press conference in New Hampshire.

Trump’s two other little-known primary challengers are Illinois congressman Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts governor William Weld.

Sanford formally kicked off his presidential bid in mid-October at a Philadelphia press conference, for which just one reporter showed up.

When Sanford announced he would challenge Trump in September, Trump proceeded to mock Sanford’s marital infidelity. While serving as South Carolina governor in 2009, Sanford disappeared for days from the public eye. An aide told reporters Sanford was hiking the Appalachian Trail, but soon after it was discovered that the former governor had flown to Argentina to visit his mistress.

“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 wrote on Twitter.

Sanford was still elected to U.S. Congress after the event, but ultimately lost his reelection bid after Trump endorsed Sanford’s opponent.

Sanford recently lamented in a social media post that he was not given the opportunity to speak at a Londonderry, New Hampshire GOP event, for fear of offending Trump supporters.

“Are you kidding me? In a state where the motto is ‘Live Free or Die?’” Sanford wrote. “Being scared of someone being offended because someone else had a different viewpoint at a small local county event? It mirrors the cancelling of primaries, and it makes me ask what has come of the Republican Party.”

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