With about 13 months to go until the 2020 presidential election, much of the media’s attention is directed to the ongoing Democratic Party primary and President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign ads and rallies. However, last month, the mainstream media heralded Trump’s potential re-election primary challengers: former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, and former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford.
Multiple articles featured the challengers, in addition to television interviews and appearances on mainstream media networks, where they outlined why they were trying to unseat Trump in 2020.
Even though these candidates received much fanfare and some time on national television, at least one of the candidates fell flat this week. Sanford’s campaign organized an event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and only had one non-campaign and non-reporter attendee. Bill Quinn, who said he is a registered Democrat, told the press that his daughter heard a seminar that Sanford gave at the University of Chicago. His daughter admired Sanford “for his integrity” and it apparently spurred Quinn to attend Sanford’s campaign event. But adding insult to injury, although he supports Sanford’s presidential campaign, he is not planning on switching political parties to vote for Sanford.
In short, Sanford’s campaign event had one attendee who is supportive of his campaign, but does not plan on voting for Sanford in the election.
Although the media championed these primary challengers, the media did not mince words about the viability of the three primary candidates last month. For example, NBC News said that Sanford is “another long-shot primary challenger” and CNN agreed with the sentiment when it said Sanford launched a “long-shot primary bid” in their write-up of the announcement.
Weld ran as a Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee in 2016 alongside Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson. Walsh has been a radio host since leaving Congress in 2013. Sanford was the governor of South Carolina from 2003-2011 until an extramarital affair forced his resignation, and then served in Congress from 2013 until losing a primary challenge to pro-Trump candidate Katie Arrington.
Trump, at the time of the primary challenge announcements, tweeted his thoughts about the candidates:
Can you believe it? I’m at 94% approval in the Republican Party, and have Three Stooges running against me. One is “Mr. Appalachian Trail” who was actually in Argentina for bad reasons….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2019
The event and low attendance displayed how the mainstream media may inflate one’s perceived worth, impact, or value, but can easily abandon the person or cause if things go south.