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Former Rep. Mark Sanford announces he will challenge Trump in GOP primary

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By Allan Smith  with NBC News Politics
Image: Former Gov. Mark Sanford leaves a polling place in Charleston, S.C.,
Former Gov. Mark Sanford leaves a polling place in Charleston, S.C., in 2013.   -   Copyright  Rainier Ehrhardt AP file

Former Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., said on Sunday that he will run for president, giving President Donald Trump another longshot primary challenger.

"I plan to announce that back home this week.," Sanford told "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace, adding, "But I am here to tell you now that I am going to get in."

Sanford is the third Republican to announce a primary challenge to Trump, joining former Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. After hinting at a run for months, Sanford said he would focus his bid on spending and the growing national debt.

Sanford served as a congressman for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District from 1995-2001 and again from 2013-2019. He served as the state's governor from 2003-2011, where he faced scandal over an extramarital affair. Sanford said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail while, in actuality, he was in Argentina with a mistress.

Sanford lost a 2018 reelection bid to his congressional seat after Trump endorsed South Carolina state Rep. Katie Arrington, who won the primary before losing the race to now-Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C. Sanford and Trump have a history of trading barbs.

"Can you believe it? I'm at 94% approval in the Republican Party, and have Three Stooges running against me," Trump tweeted last month. "One is 'Mr. Appalachian Trail' who was actually in Argentina for bad reasons. Another is a one-time BAD Congressman from Illinois who lost in his second term by a landslide, then failed in radio. The third is a man who couldn't stand up straight while receiving an award. I should be able to take them!"

Trump has a high approval rating among Republicans, but he often exaggerates their support.

Sanford's announcement comes as his home state's GOP canceled its 2020 primary following other states canceling their Republican primaries.