Trump primary challenger Mark Sanford: I would 'absolutely' build border wall as president

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark SanfordMark SanfordThe Hill's Campaign Report: Late bids surprise 2020 Democratic field Michigan GOP attempting to have Trump be only Republican candidate on ballot Weld files to run in GOP presidential primary in New Hampshire MORE, a Republican running against President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence MORE in a long shot primary campaign, said he would “absolutely” build a border wall if elected president. 

Sanford told Hill.TV’s Saagar Enjeti that he doesn’t disagree with Trump on immigration issues but does not believe there needs to be a barrier along the nearly 2,000 mile border between the U.S. and Mexico — a key campaign promise Trump has been trying to fulfill since his inauguration.

“For all the banter that’s gone back and forth, he hasn’t gotten any of it done," Sanford said. "He certainly caused a lot of friction, a lot of smoke and fire, but there’s not been an additional mile of wall built.”

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The Trump administration and Democrats have clashed repeatedly over attempts to pass funding for various construction projects, including a 35-day government shutdown from late December through early January.

The Department of Defense in September finalized nearly $2.5 billion in contracts to build a portion of the wall. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt transferred 560 acres of land to the Army for about 70 miles of barrier in Arizona, California and Texas.

Sanford said the partisan debate over the wall has created “hyperbole” on both sides of the aisle, making it difficult for lawmakers to pass legislation for even smaller portion of barriers.

“It's such an overblown argument. You’ve got about 700 miles of secure or quasi-secure border. You’ve got about 1,300 miles of open border presently,” Sanford said before adding, “this is not about closing the entire border."