Rep. Mark Sanford, who lost a bruising South Carolina primary Tuesday after President Donald Trump tweeted support for his opponent, said Wednesday the idea the Republican Party now belongs to Trump was “not something that I buy into.”
“What mattered was are you for or against the president,” Sanford, who lost to state Rep. Katie Arrington in the GOP primary, told Anderson Cooper on CNN. “I am neither for him nor against him.
“I am for him when he is consistent in ideology. And, then, I will occasionally be against him when he is not.
“I think we all have a question of whether we have a Republican or Democratic primary based on the institutions of the American system,” he said.
Arrington defeated Sanford, who often clashed with Trump, 51 percent to 47 percent, after the president tweeted he was “nothing but trouble.”
Sanford is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which has also squared off with President Trump.
He told Cooper: “That was the statement of my opponent last night: ‘This is the party of Donald J. Trump’ — and I could not more vigorously disagree.
“It’s the party of working folks in every state in this country who have put up yard signs and licked envelopes and done all of the things in the world of politics to advance the ideas that you believe in.
“That’s who the party belongs to. This notion that it is belonging to anybody at the top is an inverted pyramid, based on the design of the Founding Fathers. A few powers were to be reserved at the top, but everything else at the state and local level — particularly with Republicans, who have espoused that notion of federalism for a long time.
“Now, we’re just in a very weird place that I’ve never seen before,” Sanford said. “In the case of last night, it cost me the election.”
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