Will Mark Sanford be the nation's 46th president?

Short answer: No way.

Can he be successful by just running for president?

That depends on what Sanford is trying to achieve.

If he's looking to address the flaws in the Donald Trump presidency or what the Democrats are doing wrong or his belief that the country is on a doomed path of overspending, that should be easy.

He'll have the money to do it.  

If he hopes to take his challenge directly to Trump, however, theoretically no campaign would let that happen: no debates, no joint appearances with any challenger.

Then again, Trump calls his own shots.

Still, if Sanford does run, it will be surprisingly easy for him to compete, at least early on. In Iowa, the caucuses are open. In New Hampshire, the state runs the primary, which means he can get on the Granite State's GOP presidential ballot for only a $1,000 filing fee.

Here are questions and answers about Sanford going forward:

What about money?

Sanford is loaded with cash if he wants to make a protest run.

His "Sanford for Congress" report filed with the Federal Election Commission on June 30 listed $1.35 million left over in his congressional account after his loss to Katie Arrington in the 2018 GOP primary.

As money raised to seek federal office, there is nothing preventing him from simply transferring that over to a presidential run. It would be as easy as changing the account's title from "Sanford for Congress" to "Sanford for President."

It would be enough to travel and hire staff. The question remains open on how much more money he could raise.

Who would listen to him?

Trump already proved successful campaigns can be run outside the norm. Sanford could tweet, accept any TV appearance and become a constant presence on social media platforms.

College campuses and civic groups would surely welcome him to speak, and media in Iowa and New Hampshire would follow him.

Who wouldn't listen?

Anyone who wants to stay in the good graces of Trump and the Republican Party. If Sanford is the leader of the Never Trumpers, the party will quickly move to isolate him.

University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato said he believes Sanford has the backbone to take the attacks the Trump campaign would launch, adding the Republican Party that Sanford knew is dead and it's now the party of Trump.

That also means Sanford is likely to be banned from next summer's national party convention in Charlotte.

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"Anyone who opposes Trump isn't going to get a floor pass, let alone a place on the podium," Sabato said.

Getting on ballot in Iowa, N.H., South Carolina

South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick made it clear he's not a fan of a Sanford run.

“The last time Mark Sanford had an idea this dumb, it killed his governorship," he said in a media statement Tuesday. "This makes about as much sense as that trip up the Appalachian Trail."

Still, it will be up to the S.C. party's Executive Committee to decide whether to hold a primary and allow a Trump challenge. The body will review the idea at its Sept. 7 meeting.

Elsewhere, Sanford's early path is more encouraging. A key move would be to let the Iowa Republican Party know he wants to be considered in the open Feb. 3 Iowa caucus.

The caucuses are informal events where party members come out and give their support at the 7 p.m. gatherings covering 1,681 precincts around the state. Republicans meet at the same time the Democrats will.

Kevin Hall, spokesman for the Iowa secretary of state's office that oversees election matters, said Sanford would be best served to start building attention there or lining up supporters to speak in his favor.

To make a splash in the Iowa caucus, "it takes a lot of ground work to make an impact," Hall said.

New Hampshire is also an easy path since its primary is run by the state. Candidacy application forms to get on the GOP ballot will be printed this fall.

All Sanford has to do to be listed there is fill out a declaration form and pay a $1,000 filing fee. The primary date has not been set.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 843-937-5551. Follow him on Twitter at @skropf47.

Political Editor

Schuyler Kropf is The Post and Courier political editor. He has covered every major political race in South Carolina dating to 1988, including for U.S. Senate, governorship, the Statehouse and Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.

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