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Republican presidential candidate and former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford tweeted "RESIGN!" at President Donald Trump on Friday. The tweet was later deleted. Sanford said it was a mistake by one of his volunteers. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

For less than 30 seconds Friday, it seemed like Republican presidential candidate Mark Sanford had issued his strongest comment yet about Donald Trump, tweeting in all-caps at the president: "RESIGN!"

And then it was gone.

The pointed post, which has since been deleted, came from Sanford's Twitter account at 11:46 a.m.

Reached for comment, the South Carolina Republican said it was a mistake made by one of his campaign volunteers.

"I'm not a tweeter," Sanford said. "They made a mistake and pushed the wrong button. It was a complete accident."

The tweet was in response to Trump's flurry of social media posts Friday morning, in which Trump said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan assured him the five-day cease-fire on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria had not fallen apart.

"DEFEAT TERRORISM!" Trump wrote, sharing a tweet from Erdogan.  

That's when Sanford says one of his volunteers reportedly replied to Trump and wrote, "RESIGN!"

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This screenshot shows a since-deleted tweet by Republican presidential candidate Mark Sanford. The former South Carolina governor and congressman said the tweet was a "mistake" made by one of his volunteers. Caitlin Byrd/Staff

Sanford said a number of his volunteers have access to his Twitter account.

Still, the tweet reportedly rattled the pair of volunteers who are traveling with the former South Carolina governor and congressman as part of a 3,500-mile, cross-country campaign swing that began Wednesday.

They feared Sanford's account had been hacked.

But when asked if he agreed with the now-deleted tweet, Sanford did not mince words.

"I think a different 'R' word should be used. I think he should be replaced," Sanford said, saying it's ultimately up to voters.

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Trump has been criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike for his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who is normally a close ally of the president, has publicly called Trump's decision "the biggest mistake of his presidency." 

This is also not the first time Sanford's tweets have caused a stir.

When Sanford was still deciding whether or not he would run for president, he incorrectly referred to Iowa as the "Buckeye State" — a nickname for Ohio — in a tweet about a visit he was making to the first-in-the-nation caucus state. At the time, Sanford said that tweet was also the error of a volunteer.

Sanford, who refers to Twitter as "ephemeral" and "vacuous" website, said he may have to centralize his communications operations for his social media accounts. He is fiercely protective of his Facebook account, which he posts from directly.

"I guess I may have to become possessive of my Twitter account, too," he joked.

Sanford is one of three Republicans running against Trump in 2020. The two other challengers are former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh.

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.