John A. Carlos II (copy)

Mark Sanford appears at a rally opposing offshore drilling held at the State House in Columbia in 2018. File/John A. Carlos II /Special to The Post and Courier

Cheated out of his once-expected presidential bid — literally — Mark Sanford says now, a decade later, might be his moment to hit the trail.

For real, this time.

South Carolina’s former governor and two-time congressman told The Post and Courier he’s considering running for president. Of the United States. Against Donald Trump.

Yes, please.

Sanford told reporter Caitlin Byrd that he feels the need to join the fray because no other Republican has stepped up to challenge Trump for the 2020 nomination. And he sincerely believes someone should, since the president has turned the GOP completely on its head.

“I’m a Republican,” Sanford said. “I think the Republican Party has lost its way on debt, spending and financial matters.”

He’s not wrong there. Republicans, who once revolted at the idea of raising the debt ceiling and wrung their hands over the nation’s mounting bills, have exploded the deficit in the past year. And since the tea party went MIA, no one seems to care.

Except, of course, an old policy wonk like Sanford.

Now, let’s be realistic. The odds of Sanford wresting the nomination from Trump are slim and none … and slim’s gone to Uruguay.

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Even if more than half the Republicans in the country would secretly like to replace the Tweeter-in-Chief, few are brave enough to say that. Most states likely won’t even hold a Republican primary for fear of raising the king’s ire.

But imagine a debate between those two — one speaking in sentences three minutes long, the other unable to form a complete sentence.

Sanford obviously can't win, but he could make a point here about fiscal conservatism, which is exactly what he’s trying to do.

Back in the day, our former governor stuck to his principles to the point of cutting off his own nose (and our Medicaid funding) to spite his face. Mostly. And he says if he doesn’t run for president, he might start a think-tank.

Well, what better way to raise start-up money for the Sanford Institute than to pick a fight with the president — who is unable to resist bashing, and unintentionally promoting, anyone who speaks ill of him?

“Sometimes in life you’ve got to say what you’ve got to say, whether there’s an audience or not for that message,” Sanford says.

That’s an appropriately quixotic sentiment, but make no mistake, Sanford knows what he’s doing. He realizes the media cannot resist this story: A congressman who lost his job because he criticized Trump, now on a quest to return the favor.

This could be the greatest political farce in history: A once-disgraced philanderer versus the Philanderer-in-Chief. That’s just the sort of reality TV gutter politics this country apparently loves.

Even Trump would have to agree.

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