In 1st Congressional District race, Sanford turns to attention-grabbing tactic

gsmith@islandpacket.comApril 25, 2013 

Mark Sanford

South Carolina former Governor Mark Sanford held a mock debate with a cutout of U.S.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Wednesday in Charleston.


And you thought it was funny when he took the two squealing piglets into the Statehouse.

Mark Sanford -- never one to shy from a publicity stunt to make a point -- has been touring the 1st Congressional District with a life-sized cutout of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

It's an attention-grabbing campaign tactic, perhaps spurred by a poll indicating the former Republican governor trails his Democratic nominee. A new poll by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling finds that Elizabeth Colbert Busch is leading Sanford by nine percentage points.

It's not the first time Sanford has gone to such lengths to make a statement.

In 2004, when he was governor, Sanford brought two piglets -- nicknamed Pork and Barrel -- into the Statehouse to make a case to the media that House members needed to eliminate "pork barrel" projects from the state budget. He wanted the savings -- not one-time money or funds that might not materialize -- to pay off state debt.

On Wednesday, Sanford "debated" the Pelosi cutout at a Charleston campaign stop, drumming the point that Colbert Busch has accepted money from the liberal congresswoman.

Sanford, Colbert Busch and Green Party candidate Eugene Platt will be on the ballot in the May 7 special election to fill the seat left vacant by Tim Scott, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate.

On Thursday, Sanford held a "Pelosi in the Park" event in Charleston's Marion Square, where he repeated his call for Colbert Busch to return "every dime" Pelosi and her affiliated groups have spent in the race, as well as contributions from unions. (Cutout Pelosi was not in attendance; instead, Sanford "debated" a poster depicting phone calls he had gotten from supporters of Pelosi and an interview in which Pelosi said the new Boeing plant in North Charleston should be unionized.)

"Nancy Pelosi believes she can buy another vote for her return to the speakership, but I don't believe at the end of it all that voters here are going to be swayed by her negative and misleading television ads," Sanford said. "The fact is that whether it's Obamacare, the stimulus, the debt ceiling or any number of other issues, my opponent and Nancy Pelosi's views are completely at odds with what the people of the 1st District want."

Colbert Busch has said there are good and bad parts to federal health care reform and considers it a first draft at addressing a serious problem.

She has said she would not return union contributions, adding she isn't in their pocket.

Colbert Bush, who was endorsed by Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling on Thursday, has cast herself as a moderate Democrat who disagreed with President Barack Obama's budget proposal because it failed to balance the budget, cut spending and lower taxes for small businesses. She also has said she opposes a ban on assault weapons and any effort to limit the capacity of gun magazines, instead wanting expanded background checks and more funding for local police departments to limit gun trafficking.

But her latest disclosure filings show donations from powerful Democrats and their constituencies. They include the leadership PAC of Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, who serves on the Homeland Security Committee; former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes; and the Teamsters' political action committee.

Because she has agreed to only one debate, citing time constraints, voters are left to "follow the money trail," which leads to big-name national Democrats who do not represent the views of those in the 1st District, Sanford says.

Her campaign isn't saying whether she would support a Pelosi bid for another term as House minority leader."If Elizabeth has the great honor serving the people of the 1st District ... she will make a decision and vote for the person who best supports and represents the values of her district," said James Smith, Colbert Busch's spokesman.

On stimulus spending, Colbert Busch won't get specific.

"Elizabeth was not in Congress when that measure passed, and she cannot go back in time to change what's already happened," Smith said. "Instead, she will work hard in the here-and-now to put our country's fiscal house back in order, cut spending and create good jobs for the next generation."

On the debt ceiling, she has said that changes must be made to get the country's fiscal house in order before the debt ceiling should be raised, but she has not specified what those changes should be.

Follow reporter Gina Smith at

Related content:

Mark Sanford debates cutout of Nancy Pelosi, April 24, 2013

Sanford ad attacks Colbert Busch for union support; union says Sanford making false claims, April 23, 2013

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