On the same day Republican Katie Arrington released a TV ad bashing GOP primary rival U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford for his criticism of President Donald Trump, Sanford hit back by saying she's not the Trump supporter she is making herself out to be.
"She herself was for somebody else," Sanford said late Monday, hours after Arrington began airing a 30-second spot that showed clips of Sanford criticizing Trump in a series nationally televised interviews. As the clips cycle through, the words "#NeverTrumper Mark Sanford" remain at the bottom of the screen in bold.
Arrington, a state representative from Summerville, reiterates in the ad that she is a Republican who stands with Trump.
"I want to go to Congress to support President Trump's bold conservative agenda for a stronger America," Arrington says in the ad that began airing Monday morning on cable television.
It's a message she has been repeating since she launched her campaign to replace Sanford last summer.
But a March 3, 2016 Facebook post Arrington wrote shows she did not always stand with Trump.
On the same day that former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney gave a speech in which he called Trump both "a phony" and "a fraud," Arrington wrote in all-caps "LOVE MITT ROMNEY!!!!"
In a comment on that same status, Arrington admits she voted for Florida Republican Marco Rubio — not Trump — during the 2016 GOP presidential primaries.
Arrington confirmed that she did vote for Rubio during the Republican primaries.
"Mark Sanford is a never Trumper. If I was afraid of hiding something, I'm intelligent enough. I'm a cyber expert," Arrington told The Post and Courier. "But unlike Mark, I voted for Trump to be my president."
Arrington then reiterated she has supported Trump since before the general election, and attended his inauguration wearing a Trump hat and scarf.
"I guess I'm just like Trump. I'm very upfront, honest and I learn. And I listen. And I listen to President Trump," she said.
Sanford said he has a proven record of listening to constituents in the 1st Congressional District on issues like offshore drilling, which Trump supports but coastal South Carolina communities do not.
"Have I disagreed on the president with a couple of things? Yes, but I’ve been completely consistent in representing people on the coast in South Carolina," Sanford said, who then called Arrington's ad pure politics.
Sanford faces Arrington and Dimitri Cherny in the June 12 GOP primary.
Democrats Joe Cunningham and Toby Smith are also running for the 1st Congressional District seat.