Who Are Trump's 2020 Republican Challengers He Dubbed 'The Three Stooges'?

President Donald Trump recycled his own "Three Stooges" insult against a trio of Republican Party members running against him in the upcoming 2020 GOP presidential primary.

Trump hurled another "The Three Stooges" remark at former Republican South Carolina governor Mark Sanford Monday after he officially entered the race and became the third GOP challenger to Trump in 2020. Trump previously lumped Sanford in with former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld in late August when the president first compared them to the classic comedic trio, when Sanford began claiming Republicans were "running for the hills" to escape Trump's "lies."

On Monday, Trump again brought up the June 2009 story of how Sanford engaged in an extramarital affair which ultimately led to his resignation from office. Although Sanford later was elected to Congress in 2013, the story of his Argentina affair and his bogus claim of being on an "Appalachian Trail" hike made him the focus of jokes and ridicule which he has since tried to own.

Trump, tweeting Monday, did not let Sanford or any of his Republican allies forget the scandal: "When the former Governor of the Great State of South Carolina, @MarkSanford was reported missing, only to then say he was away hiking on the Appalachian Trail, then was found in Argentina with his Flaming Dancer friend, it sounded like his political career was over. It was, but then he ran for Congress and won, only to lose his re-elect after I Tweeted my endorsement, on Election Day, for his opponent. But now take heart, he is back, and running for President of the United States. The Three Stooges, all badly failed candidates, will give it a go!"

Some political analysts say Sanford offers perhaps the greatest challenge to Trump's presidency in the GOP primaries as his campaign will appeal more to conservative issues than simply being an oppositional "never Trump'er" like Weld and Walsh. As The New York Times reported, Sanford intends to focus on Trump's overseeing of a more than $1 trillion deficit and the national debt climbing to $22 trillion under his big government spending administration.

In late April, Trump first lobbed the "Three Stooges" insult at Sanford, Weld and Walsh as they all lined themselves up to primary the president next year. He labeled all three "bad" while also first calling out Sanford for the scandal.

"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....Another is a one-time BAD Congressman from Illinois who lost in his second term by a landslide, then failed in radio. The third is a man who couldn't stand up straight while receiving an award. I should be able to take them!," Trump tweeted August 27.

In 2018, Sanford owned up to the 2009 scandal in an interview with NBC News after he was defeated by a Trump-backed Republican opponent for congress.

"We all know the story of 2009 and my implosion ... I own it," said Sanford. "But there were incredible consequences – financially, politically, socially, lost my marriage, I can go down a long list. And so maybe the reason I'm so outspoken on this now is there is no seeming consequence to the president and lies. 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."

Walsh, who is also a prolific Twitter and social media user, has used Trump's inability to let an insult go in his campaign's favor.

"Luckily @realDonaldTrump hasn't blocked my team (yet) or I wouldn't have known the madman in the White House is taking shots at me. 2 things: 1. As President, I'll never block the American people on Twitter. That's nuts. 2. Help us defeat this lunatic," Walsh recently replied to a Trump tweet.

The last time a presidential candidate lost their party's primary was Republican Chester Arthur in 1884.

Mark Sanford
Mark Sanford attends the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Who Are Trump's 2020 Republican Challengers He Dubbed 'The Three Stooges'? | U.S.