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Mark Sanford.  Grace Beahm Alford/Staff File.

Congressman Mark Sanford on Sunday continued to publicly process his first electoral defeat and what it means for the direction of the Republican Party.

Sanford, a South Carolina Republican known for lengthy and nuanced explanations, boiled his loss down to one succinct point in his interview with Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"I wasn't Trump enough in the age of Trump," Sanford said.

Sanford on Tuesday lost his GOP primary contest in the coastal 1st District to Katie Arrington, a one-term state representative who portrayed Sanford as an obstructionist "Never Trumper" throughout her campaign.

He described Arrington's ad campaigns as "a sort of a greatest hits of certain things I said against the president." In one of those ads, Arrington compiled clips of Sanford's criticism of Trump from national TV interviews.

"What worked for me in the past didn't work for me this time. In other words, it wasn't as if I was unaccustomed to tough elections. But, again the playing field has changed," Sanford said.

Meanwhile, fellow members of the GOP, including South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, chalked up Sanford's loss to a predictable defeat for someone who has been so outspoken against the head of the party.

"It's OK to be critical, but you also have to add value. And, you know, my view is that I guess people didn't see the value," said Graham, who is also the godfather of one of Sanford's children.

Graham, who was once a vocal critic of Trump, has since become the president's surprise defender. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Graham called Trump everything from a "kook" to a "race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot."

The two now frequently play golf together.

Asked to make sense of how Graham and others have seemingly changed their tune in respect to deference to the president, Sanford replied, "People are scared of getting bad news from the president, and they're going to say what they want to say. Again, the number of people who will say privately to you, 'This is as tribal as I've seen it in my life,' but then publicly, will say the kind of things that you just saw on air is remarkable to, to me."

One concern Sanford said he still has with Trump is whether the president will ever face any repercussions for frequently fabricating the truth.

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"There is no seeming consequence to the president and lies," Sanford said. "And if we accept that as a society, it is going to have incredibly harmful consequences in the way that we operate going forward, based on the construct of the Founding Fathers."

That lack of accountability is especially baffling to Sanford who, while governor in 2009, said through a spokesman that he was "hiking the Appalachian Trail" when he was actually in Argentina with his mistress. 

Unlike Trump, Sanford said he paid the price for that lie.

"Financially, politically, socially, I lost my — I can go down a long list. A long list," Sanford said. 

The Sunday interview was one in a string of national TV interviews Sanford has given since his defeat. In each, Sanford has echoed components of the concession speech he gave Tuesday night, in which he described both America and the Republican Party as being at "an inflection point."

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.

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