Fresh off making waves for revealing that he’s considering a primary challenge against President Donald Trump, former South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford said on ABC's “The View” on Thursday that the president's recent attacks on four freshman congresswomen were racist.
“Well, to me, if it quacks like a duck and it swims like a duck and it flies like a duck, it's a duck,” Sanford said when asked about the president's recent comments saying Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. should "go back" to their countries.
Three of the progressive Democrats were born in the U.S., and Omar came to the U.S. as a refugee as a child. All four won a popular vote to claim their seats in Congress.
Asked if the comments were racist, Sanford said "that's what it sounds like to me," adding that the comments went against the universal ideal of "loving your neighbor."
"That doesn't mean liking them, but putting up with them, and having the conversation whether you like it or not. It's at odds with the institution that our founding fathers set up," he added.
However, Sanford also warned against playing “Trump game by getting in this spin cycle” around the president's comments.
“We'll have this same conversation two weeks from now on another subject and we won't be talking about the way in which the debt, deficit and government spending can affect people's financial futures," he said.
While many have noted the long history of Americans telling non-white people to go back to their country as a way of disparaging them, Republicans have been reluctant to criticize the president for the remarks.
Four Republicans in Congress voted on Tuesday for a resolution condemning Trump’s tweets as “racist.”
Reps. Susan Brooks of Indiana, Fred Upton of Michigan, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and Will Hurd of Texas were the only Republican lawmakers to join House Democrats in passing the resolution by a 240-187 vote.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy defended the president on Tuesday, and dismissed the charge of racism. “Let's not be false about what is happening here today," he said. "This is all about politics and beliefs of ideologies."
Sanford's comments follow President Trump's Wednesday night campaign rally in Greenville, NC, where the president doubled down on his attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn, and looked on as his largely white crowd broke into repeated chants of "Send her back!" -- a line he appeared to encourage. Omar, who was born in Somalia, is one of the first two Muslim women in Congress.
"I said I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down," President Trump told the rally crowd, referring to his racist tweets published over the weekend aimed at four freshman Democratic congressman, including Omar. "They never have anything good to say, that's why I say, hey, if they don't like it let them leave. Leave, let them leave."
Omar responded to the president's rally by tweeting out lines from a Maya Angelou poem.
You may shoot me with your words,— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) July 18, 2019
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
-Maya Angelou https://t.co/46jcXSXF0B
Sanford left the governor's office as a national punchline after admitting in 2009 to a bizarre episode in which he claimed to be hiking the Appalachian Trial but had instead traveled to Argentina to pursue an extramarital affair. On Thursday, he was asked how he would handle potential taunts from the president.
“It's a chapter of life that I regret, that I have said I'm sorry for, that I repent of, and I move on,” Sanford said. “If I indeed get into which race, I know it's a point of vulnerability, but it's also a point of strength because if you learn from your mistakes, you become a better person for them.”
Sanford made an improbable comeback in 2013, when he retook the House seat he held in the 1990s, but lost the seat in 2018, after Trump -- annoyed by Sanford's criticism of him -- tweeted support for Sanford's Republican opponent.
Sanford has said he’s going to take the next thirty days to decide whether or not to jump into the Republican primary and challenge the president of the United States on a platform of cutting "the debt, deficit and government spending."
Earlier in the week, in an interview with ABC News political director Rick Klein and ABC News senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce on the "Powerhouse Politics” podcast, Sanford seemed to temper expectations for his potential 2020 campaign, admitting that a victory at the polls wouldn’t necessarily be his main objective should be run.
“I don't think that winning necessarily has to be a goal in this kind of thing," Sanford said. "The question is: Can you win in bringing this debate forward … There are ways of winning but not winning in the electoral sense. I think it would be a win if you change the debate [so] we begin to have a real serious conversation on the Republican and Democratic sides of the aisle as to what we do to avoid a financial upheaval."
If Sanford were to run he would join fellow former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who launched his own long-shot campaign against the president back in April.
Weld has yet to catch any real fire since announcing his run back in April, raising under $700K in the second quarter, however the former Republican governor has launched a number of firey attacks against the president.
"I celebrate that America has always been a melting pot, It seems he would prefer an Aryan nation,” Weld said back in May.
For Sanford, however, the former congressman says he will make the debt and economy the centerpiece of his campaign if he runs—perhaps a hard case to make given the current state of the economy and the president’s historic support among Republicans.
"I mean, that's why people aren't talking about it," Sanford said regarding the difficultly of running on the economy. "They're talking about his different character flaws, what they don't like about what he says, the way he is inflammatory and divisive -- go down the list."
Asked whether or not be was a candidate for president, Sanford said: “I'm neither."
“What I have said is I'll give it 30 days and see whether, you know, energy and people and resources come my direction as I explore this over the next 30 days, and if they don't, no,” he said.