Former South Carolina Rep. Mark SanfordMark SanfordMark Sanford calls Graham 'a canary in the coalmine' on GOP's relationship with Trump Top cyber Pentagon official overseeing defense contractor project placed on leave Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP MORE (R), who is weighing a primary bid against President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE, said on Sunday that he would vote for the president over a Democrat even though he said Trump doesn't deserve reelection.
NBC's Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddIf .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden GOP governor: Biden's vaccine mandate 'increases the division' Manchin says he can't support Biden's .5 trillion spending plan MORE asked Sanford on "Meet the Press" if he believes Trump has earned reelection.
"I would say no, because I would argue he's taking us in the wrong direction," Sanford replied.
But, Sanford said he would still vote Trump over the Democratic nominee.
"I am a core Republican," Sanford said.
"You just said you don't think he deserves reelection, but you're still going to be able to vote for him over Joe BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE?" Todd asked.
"Everything is relative in politics," Sanford said.
Sanford said the former vice president has embraced many of the progressive policies of his Democratic primary opponents, like Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenFederal Reserve officials' stock trading sparks ethics review Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Mass.)
"I'm not seeing a great differentiation there, but I may be missing it."
Sanford made a similar argument in saying he would not consider running as an independent, even though he added that he understands the difficulty in challenging a sitting president in a primary.
"A lot of people said, 'If you're going to run, run as an independent.' I said no. I'm a Republican. The Republican Party has a lineage of historically doing some great things, but it's gone off the tracks as of late," Sanford said.
He also admitted he is likely not the strongest candidate to mount a challenge against Trump, saying "I'm sure there are a bunch" of better options.
Sanford lost a Republican gubernatorial primary, largely due to criticism from Trump.
But if he chooses to run, it is not a "vanity project," he said.
"The idea of going out and possibly being a human piñata is hardly a vanity project," Sanford said.
"What does success look like for you?" Todd asked.
"You can compete for ideas, if we began a national conversation on where are we going.. where are we going with the Republican Party in terms of what comes next," Sanford responded.