In 'Catholic confessional,' GOP Rep. Mark Sanford says Trump is the 'antithesis' of his reality

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On the same day that the president is set to visit South Carolina, a Palmetto State congressman has come out swinging against Trump -- saying he has "fanned the flames of intolerance."

While various Republican lawmakers have dipped their toes in the water of Trump opposition, arguably none have spoken so bluntly as Rep. Mark Sanford -- who was featured in a Politico piece published on Friday.

When asked by Politico if Trump doesn't doesn't impress him, Sanford responded saying, "Yeah, that's accurate."

"Because at some level he represents the antithesis, or the undoing, of everything I thought I knew about politics, preparation and life," Sanford said.

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While Sanford tells Politico he has nothing personal against the new president, he says he can't "look the other way" as Trump feeds a false narrative as it fits his personal political agenda.

Sanford, who is among those leading the charge with a Freedom Caucus-endorsed Obamacare replacement, is far from a moderate Republican -- but is described by colleagues as "odd," "eccentric" and "a character," according to Politico's Tim Alberta. In 2009, Sanford famously rejected the $700 million stimulus package allotted to South Carolina under President Obama -- saying the move "cut against the notion of federalism and the idea of each state having the flexibility to act in a manner that best suits its needs."

One of the more outspoken fiscal stalwarts of the Republican party, Sanford entered politics in 1994, when he first represented South Carolina's 1st Congressional District. He held that position until 2002, when he successfully ran for governor of South Carolina. He held that position until 2011, after a widely-covered 2009 affair with Argentinian television journalist María Belén Chapur put him in questionable standing. He later re-won his congressional seat in 2013 -- the position he holds today.

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As Alberta notes in his piece, Sanford brings up his extramarital 2009 scandal casually throughout their conversation, calling the exchange a "Catholic confessional." But as Sanford decribed in an August 2016 New York Times op-ed, the sense remains that the GOP representative views Trump's rhetoric and lack of transparency as "something our country cannot afford."

"I believe in a war of ideas ... and I tell the staff all the time: Look, we're in the business of crafting and refining our arguments that are hopefully based on the truth," Sanford said. "Truth matters. Not hyperbole, not wild suggestion, but actual truth."

"And all of a sudden a guy comes along where facts don't matter?" Sanford said of Trump. "It's somewhat befuddling. It's the undoing of that which you base a large part of your life on."

Despite Sanford's sharp criticism of the president, as seen in the Politico piece, it appears Sanford hasn't fully given up on bridging gaps between himself and the new commander in chief. The congressman took to Facebook on Thursday to congratulate Trump on having Mick Mulvaney confirmed as the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

As someone with one of the more tumultuous political background on Capitol Hill, Sanford is in the unique position to speak more candidly as a GOP insider. As someone who has never lost a campaign, it's unclear whether Sanford views his remarks on President Trump as a threat to future re-election bids.

"I'm a dead man walking," Sanford said. "If you've already been dead, you don't fear it as much."

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