U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Charleston, endorsed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz for president at a Charleston rally Friday.
Sanford’s endorsement came a day before the S.C. GOP presidential primary. The Cruz rally included appearances by Phil Robertson from the “Duck Dynasty” reality-television show and talk-show host Sean Hannity.
Sanford, a former S.C. governor known more for being a budget hawk than a social conservative politician, said he was proud Cruz opposed federal ethanol subsidies, an important issue in the early-voting state of Iowa. Cruz won that caucus despite opposing the subsidies, popular in Iowa.
Sanford also said he tired of criticisms of Cruz, who has been labeled as “nasty” and employing campaign dirty tricks.
“It struck me that it’s gotten out of bounds,” Sanford said at the rally. “When you have folks criticizing this guy for what he said on spending. When you have folks saying it doesn’t mater what the Constitution is. ... The beauty of the Constitution is that it matters not what one of us thinks. It matters what the Constitution prescribes.”
Sanford becomes the second member of the S.C. congressional delegation to back the Republican senator from Texas, who has worked hard to appeal to S.C. evangelical voters.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan also has endorsed Cruz, who stands second in most S.C. polls behind New York billionaire Donald Trump.
Four other members of the S.C. delegation also are backing 2016 hopefuls:
▪ U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-Charleston. and U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-Spartanburg, have endorsed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Rubio is third in most S.C. polls.
▪ U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Seneca Republican who ran for president, is supporting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
▪ U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, Friday.
U.S. Reps. Joe Wilson, R-Springdale, and Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach, have not endorsed a presidential candidate.
U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, backed U.S. Sen Rand Paul, R-Ky., before he ended his presidential campaign. Mulvaney said Friday he has no plans to endorse another candidate.