One person showed up
PHILADELPHIA — The bell in the Independence Hall tower rang at 9 a.m., and Mark Sanford took a deep breath. He grabbed a giant check for “one trillion dollars,” stood next to a tiny wooden lectern, and asked me if I was ready for him to kick off a news conference announcing his bid to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican primary.
It didn’t really feel like a news conference. I was the only reporter there.
And when it began, the only others around besides his two aides were a family 30 yards away with a selfie stick and a group of students from Paris who wanted to know why he had such a big check. (Answer: It represented the burden of the national debt.)
The former South Carolina congressman and governor — perhaps best known for disappearing from office for six days in 2009 to visit a paramour in Argentina — launched his long-long-long-shot presidential campaign Wednesday in a gloomy Philadelphia. The launch also served to kick off his “Kids, We’re Bankrupt and We Didn’t Even Know It” tour — a 3,500-mile, weeklong road trip he hopes will “spark a needed conversation” within the Republican Party about spending and debt. He was set to make stops later Wednesday in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.