Instead, Trump brought up a meeting he had with GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday night, and how those in attendance “applauded and laughed loudly” when he referenced US Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina.
Had a great meeting with the House GOP last night at the Capitol. They applauded and laughed loudly when I mentioned my experience with Mark Sanford. I have never been a fan of his!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2018
The tweet appeared to be Trump’s rebuttal to reports that fellow Republicans fell silent, and then booed, after the president took a verbal swipe at Sanford, a frequent critic of the president.
During the meeting with lawmakers, Trump reportedly veered off the topic of immigration to taunt Sanford, who was not in attendance.
Sanford lost his primary last week to state Representative Katie Arrington, who had vowed to be more supportive of the president, after Trump urged voters to dump him shortly before the election. Sanford has blamed his defeat on Trump, saying support for the president is becoming a litmus test in GOP primaries.
‘‘It may have cost me an election in this case, but I stand by every one of those decisions to disagree with the president,’’ Sanford said during his concession speech at a bar outside Charleston.
But Trump hit back during Tuesday’s closed-door meeting, taking a swipe at Sanford by sarcastically telling the 200-plus Republicans in attendance: ‘‘I want to congratulate him on running a great race!’’ The comment was reportedly met with awkward silence.
So Trump forged forward, asking, “What, nobody gets it?’’ and described Sanford as being a “nasty guy,” according to The Washington Post. Trump was then reportedly met with boos.
Sanford later told the Associated Press that he was confused by Trump’s attack on him, but glad his colleagues showed displeasure at the president’s broadside.
Sanford said he ‘‘finds some solace’’ in the boos, which he said friends who were present described to him. He also said it was ‘‘startling’’ that Trump would raise ‘‘some perceived personal slight’’ during a meeting on a serious topic.