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-S.C.) said the unyielding support Republicans are giving President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE is a "cancerous growth" on the party.
Sanford made the comments in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine two days after he lost his reelection bid in Tuesday's Republican primary. The outgoing congressman addressed public perception that he wasn't loyal enough to Trump and how it contributed to his loss.
"It is a cancerous growth," Sanford said. "The basis on which people's frustrations have been built is real and understandable in the way that at times Washington doesn't work for them or their families and those they love."
Sanford, a frequent Trump critic, continued that the idea that Republican lawmakers must align closely with the president is "metastasizing."
"And I think that again that which gave rise to the Trump phenomenon needs to be acknowledged as real and valid. I think the metastasization component is the way in which at times the president has pandered in his answers suggesting that there's an easy cure."
Sanford, who had served in the House since 2013, lost the GOP nomination to South Carolina state Rep. Katie Arrington, a vocal supporter of the president. Arrington secured Trump's endorsement on primary day in a tweet in which the president also criticized Sanford.
Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA. He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina. I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love. She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2018
In her victory speech, Arrington called the GOP the "party of President Donald J. Trump."
Sanford disagreed with Arrington's remarks, echoing comments he made on MSNBC in which he said that he pledges allegiance to the flag, not Trump.
"Those were her words and I could not more vigorously disagree," Sanford said. "It's the party of a lot of people across this country that have worked hard and licked envelopes and stamps and all the things you do in advancing campaigns and the ideas that surround them. It doesn't belong to somebody at the top in Washington, D.C., and yet that's what we've morphed into."
Sanford blamed his loss, in part, on Trump's last-minute tweet endorsing Arrington.
Trump later tweeted after Arrington's victory, saying "My political representatives didn’t want me to get involved in the Mark Sanford primary thinking that Sanford would easily win — but with a few hours left I felt that Katie was such a good candidate, and Sanford was so bad, I had to give it a shot."
My political representatives didn’t want me to get involved in the Mark Sanford primary thinking that Sanford would easily win - but with a few hours left I felt that Katie was such a good candidate, and Sanford was so bad, I had to give it a shot. Congrats to Katie Arrington!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018