Rep. Mark Sanford: Nikki Haley would make a good secretary of state because "having folks of different ethnic backgrounds matters"

That said, "I don't think the cabinet needs to look like a Benetton commercial," the S. Carolina Republican added

By Matthew Rozsa
Published November 18, 2016 7:35PM (EST)

Rep. Mark Sanford, who seven years ago coined the phrase "hiking the Appalachian Trail" as a euphemism for committing adultery, has once again put his foot in his mouth.

During a Thursday appearance on MSNBC, Sanford was asked whether he thought Gov. Nikki Haley — who, like Sanford, is an elected official from South Carolina — would do a good job as secretary of state if appointed to the position by President-elect Donald Trump.

"Yeah I do," Sanford replied before segueing into a discussion of Haley's racial background, which had not been brought up in the original question.

"I don't think the cabinet needs to look like a Benetton commercial, but I think that having folks of different ethnic backgrounds matters, particularly in that role, given we're 5 percent of the world's population and most of the world doesn't look like us," Sanford said. "She's of Indian descent. I think that that would really matter."

Haley, who was elected to the governorship in 2010 and reelected in 2014, is of Indian descent and was born and raised as a Sikh, although she was married in a dual Sikh/Methodist ceremony and identifies as a Christian today.

Sanford is perhaps best known for his own tenure as governor of South Carolina, during which he became the center of a media firestorm when he mysteriously vanished for several days and tried to cover up his absence by claiming he'd been "hiking the Appalachian Trail." It later came out that he had actually been engaging in an affair with an Argentine mistress, María Belén Chapur.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Donald Trump Mark Sanford Nikki Haley Secretary Of State South Carolina