Mark Sanford on why he’s fighting to define the Republican Party

JUDY WOODRUFF: To many, Donald Trump is reshaping
the Republican Party, but there are some Republicans who disagree with his leadership and policies
enough to try to challenge him for the presidency. Mark Sanford is one. The former South Carolina congressman and
governor announced this week he’s running for the Republican nomination for president,
making him the third in his party to do so. And he joins me now. Mark Sanford, welcome to the “NewsHour.” So, why challenge a president who is polling
at 87 percent favorability in his own party? MARK SANFORD (R), Presidential Candidate:
Because I think we need to have a conversation about what it means to be a Republican these
days. I think that certain tenets of what the Republican
Party traditionally stood for have been lost of late. And I think that, at a grassroots level, there
are a lot of people out there that I think still believe in those things. Take, for instance, this issue of spending
and debt and deficits. They have gone out of control in Washington. The president said: If I get elected, I will
completely eliminate that debt over the eight years that I might be in office. In fact, the numbers have gone in the opposite
direction. I think it’s worth a conversation. JUDY WOODRUFF: And I want to ask you about
that. I mean, you’re making that a centerpiece. At least, that’s what you’re talking about
this week. But just how far are you prepared to go? Are you prepared to talk about cuts in Social
— the entitlement programs, so-called, Social Security, Medicare, even tax increases? How far are you prepared to go? MARK SANFORD: To go all the way in simply
telling the truth. I think that, you know, people would acknowledge
that we’re on an unsustainable path. I think there’s a disconnect between the way
in which people gather around the family kitchen and the watercooler and the business table,
and very carefully and meticulously going through their budgets at the business or individual
level. And they see the numbers and they say, you
know, they don’t add up. And if nobody else is worried about it, I
guess I’m not worried about it either. And so we have been lulled into this sense
of, it will go away on its own, when, in fact, that’s not case. Erskine Bowles, was one of the co-chairs of
the Bowles-Simpson report, said this at the end of it. He said, we’re walking away from the most
predictable financial crisis in the history of man. And I think we’re now at that the tipping
point, if you look at the way we’re projected to run deficits over the next 10 years, if
you look at where we are on debt, if you look at the spending that accompanies both, we
are at a tipping point. And so either we go out and confront truth
and, indeed, deal with entitlements and other, or we pretend it is going to go away, which
it never does, and as a consequence the financial markets will bring us back to reality, and
it will be bruising for every one of us. JUDY WOODRUFF: But you think you can get people
to care about this, to vote for this, when there’s no evidence right now that there’s
any kind of consensus, even among Republicans, who used to be — it used to the party of
getting spending down. MARK SANFORD: Yes, it was, again, a cornerstone,
as were many other things. The Republican Party is not exactly the Republican
Party that I invested a lot of years of my life into. But it is what it is, which makes it that
much more important to say, is this really the direction that we want to go? I mean, take, for instance, just the congressional
district that I used to represent here… (CROSSTALK) MARK SANFORD: … of South Carolina. JUDY WOODRUFF: And I… MARK SANFORD: I’m sorry. You were about to say something? JUDY WOODRUFF: No, go ahead. I just want to say, I have got a couple of
other issues I want to ask you about. MARK SANFORD: OK. OK. But take that district. It went Democratic for the first time in 50
years, in large part simply because of the president’s tone. Working women, suburban women, young millennials
turned out in droves. And, as a consequence, the district went a
different direction. I think it’s time to have a real conversation
about where we’re going as a party. JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to ask you very quickly
about a few other issues. One is climate change. Are you with the president in his skepticism
about it? MARK SANFORD: I’m not. I believe in science. It is inconceivable to me that you could say,
I believe in the miracles of modern medicine and what science can do in healing the human
body, but I don’t believe in science outside of the body as it relates the larger, you
know, ecosystem that we live in as human beings. JUDY WOODRUFF: Immigration, the president’s
been very tough on this issue. He wants a border wall. You have said you agree with that. What about the policy of family separation,
tighter asylum rules, laws? Where are you on that? MARK SANFORD: I agree with much of that. I mean, I think that, inasmuch as asylum is
abused, and not for true asylum, we have a problem, and it ought to be tightened up. I don’t agree with the idea of separating
families, simply because, you know, you can be tough on immigration, but also believe
in the sanctity of the family unit. JUDY WOODRUFF: Foreign policy. Would you talk to the leader of North Korea? MARK SANFORD: You know, I don’t think so. I mean, I think he’s proven himself an awfully
bad actor on the world stage. I was in Congress at the time that, you know,
the Clinton administration, in essence, struck a deal with North Korea, and the net-net of
that deal was, you know, we sent a lot of money their way, and we got nothing in result. I don’t see this movie ending up much differently. I think it falls more carefully on the lines
of trust, but verify, what Reagan talked about. And they need to do some things that show
verification before we step out in trusting them and meeting with them. JUDY WOODRUFF: And do you agree with President
Trump’s policy on trade toward China, the tariffs? MARK SANFORD: I think that, you know, as late
as this last Friday, The Wall Street Journal had an article talking about how there had
been a full percentage point drop in our growth in this country as a result of trade uncertainty. I think the way that he has approached it
has been mistaken. I think it is hurting the American consumer. You look at about $1,000 of cost per household
that’s calculated now in what’s coming our way, and it’s going to get worse. And if we don’t watch out, we’re going to
go the direction of Smoot-Hawley tariffs of the 1930s, where world trade declined by two-thirds. You start a trade war, you don’t know exactly
where it ends. I think we’re, again, not approaching this
in the right direction. JUDY WOODRUFF: How would your White House,
if you’re elected, be run differently from this White House under President Trump? MARK SANFORD: I was a chief executive of a
state for eight years of my life. And what I saw in that experience is, it’s
incredibly important that there be predictability from the executive branch. It allows forces for you and against you to
line up, and there is at least a battle line drawn, where you can have a real debate on
where you want to go next as a state, where you want to go next as a country. What we have more of is sort of chaos theory. One day, it’s here, the next day, it’s here,
the next day, it’s here. And, as a consequence, what happens is exactly
what we’re seeing in trade, wherein business investment has been frozen up because people
don’t know what comes next. You’re not going to invest in that kind of
environment. And the same is true of political decisions. They’re not made because nobody knows exactly
what’s going to happen next. Am I really going to take a stand as a Republican? Well, he may or may not have my back. It’s important there be predictability out
of the White House. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, the president
has made some very cutting personal comments about you, Mark Sanford. He’s referred to your leaving the office,
how you left the office of governor, and a number of other things. The chairman of… MARK SANFORD: Well, no, let’s be clear. I didn’t… JUDY WOODRUFF: Go ahead. Yes. MARK SANFORD: Go ahead. I’m sorry. JUDY WOODRUFF: No. MARK SANFORD: No, go ahead. Yes, ma’am. JUDY WOODRUFF: I was just going to say, the
chairman of the Republican Party in South Carolina has called your candidacy a vanity
project. You’re not getting a lot of support in your
home state. They have canceled the Republican primary
in your home state of South Carolina. How do you — I mean, when your home folks
are not behind you, how do you have a candidacy? MARK SANFORD: There’s a big difference between
political folks and home folks. And I have had the honor of getting to know
all kinds of folks from across South Carolina over my long number of years, both in Congress
and the governorship. And there is a decided difference between
the political body and regular people in our state. I think what this should tell us is, wait
a minute. Somebody in the Trump Organization is looking
at the numbers and saying, my support is a mile wide, but an inch deep, because if you
have a chance to pick up supposedly a 90 percent win in the first-in-the-South primary, you
take it, because it signals other things in primaries that will follow. Instead, they canceled that primary in South
Carolina, which is, again, beyond perplexing. And so I would simply say, I think it begs
much more of the question, why are they doing this, and begs that much more of the question
of the need for a debate in the Republican Party on where we go next. JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Sanford, a candidate for
the Republican nomination for president, thank you. MARK SANFORD: Yes, ma’am.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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