Former Republican Rep. Mark Sanford Asks Why We Don’t Hold Trump to Same Standard as Steve King


Amidst the bipartisan rebuke of Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) racist comments revealed in a New York Times, for which he just lost all his committee assignments, Trump-critic and former GOP Rep. Mark Sanford wondered on CNN Tuesday why Republicans don’t also rebuke President Trump.

Host Alisyn Camerota jumped right in with the question when the interview began, asking Sanford directly, “Should Congressman Steve King resign?”

“Not my call to make, but effectively, given what the House did last night, his resignation has already taken place,” said Sanford, who himself resigned as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2009 after his own scandal when he was governor of South Carolina before becoming a member of Congress. “Committee assignments are where the real work gets done in Congress. That’s where any individual member has real leverage in the political process. With that taken away, effectively his legs have been cut from beneath him.”

Camerota brought up remarks from Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) on Monday, who said that King should “resign and move on.”

She then ran through a long list of previous King moments, ranging from the time he said “Hispanics and blacks will be fighting each other” before they outnumber white Americans, to the fact that he long displayed a Confederate flag on his desk (despite his state, Iowa, having been Union), to the time he demanded to know what non-white people have ever done for civilization.

Camerota asked Sanford, “why was yesterday the tipping point?”

“I think you are asking the $94 question,” he said. “What’s happening here goes well beyond Steve King. It represents the further devolution of political debate in this country.”

“Tim Scott, Senator from here in South Carolina, I think was eloquent in his condemnation of Steve’s remarks,” he said. “The bigger question is what Romney raised. Romney said his comments aren’t appropriate for polite company. Are you kidding me?”

“What’s interesting about that is where is the outrage when Donald Trump says crazy things or racist things? Where is the outrage when Maxine Waters says, let’s go after the kids of cabinet members. Where is the outrage when a recently elected senator from Mississippi says put me on the front row of the lynching mob,” he continued. “What you can’t have in politics is selective outrage. We say we are outraged at this but we’ll turn a blind eye to all this other.”

“You can’t have selective outrage which is what we’ve got in Congress now,” said Sanford.

Camerota turned that right back on him, though.

“That’s a fair point,” she said. “In fairness, you were in Congress when Steve King said some of the other offensive things. Did you speak out against him?”

“I did not,” said Sanford. Although he just finished trashing Congress for being selective in outrage, he seemed to excuse selection on the basis of quantity. “As I said, there are a lot of crazy things said in Congress.”

He added to Camerota, “you didn’t speak out against him either.”

“We did, actually,” she said. “Actually — I’m not trying to have some sort of moral high ground but we did have Steve King on this show many times, and he said really offensive things on our show and we would talk about it.”

“I didn’t say the show or CNN, I said did you personally,” said Sanford.

“On the show in my role here, yes. We talked about it a lot,” said Camerota. “But I guess I take your point.”

Sanford said that “for whatever reason this is a tripping wire,” meaning King’s comments, but that “we’ve all got to be on guard” for racist comments and “be consistent in that.”

He again said that many Republicans fail to object in the same way when Trump says things equally as offensive as King’s remarks, which Camerota called a “fair point.”

They continued with that point essentially to the end of the clip, which you can watch above, courtesy of CNN. “You can’t give some folks a pass and others not,” concluded Sanford.

Watch the clip above, courtesy of CNN.

Follow Caleb Howe (@CalebHowe) on Twitter

Have a tip we should know?

Filed Under: