Curtis Bostic attempted to use former Gov. Mark Sanford's words against him in a debate Monday on the eve of the Republican runoff for the 1st Congressional District.
Sanford pushed back with criticism about Bostic's failure to file a campaign disclosure form.
The two squared off at a Hilton Head Island First Monday Republican Lunch Group forum and was the last time the two men would debate before today's runoff. It also was the only Beaufort County debate between the candidates.
"America was a country founded by political amateurs," Bostic said, quoting from Sanford's 2000 book, "The Trust Committed to Me."
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Bostic has sought to define himself as a fresh candidate with new ideas who wants to serve voters, and to cast Sanford as a career politician whose time has come and gone.
"I am the Mr. Smith goes to Washington. I'm the amateur, like those people who founded this nation of ours," said Bostic, a Charleston attorney and former eight-year member of Charleston County Council. "I am not looking for a career. I am not looking for somewhere to go. I want to serve you."
Sanford pushed back on the "career politician" label, saying he cast many unpopular votes while in Congress that hurt his reelection efforts but served taxpayers.
"If I was to be dubbed a career politician, I must have had a death wish," Sanford said to a packed room at Aunt Chilada's Easy Street Cafe.
Sanford said he would place a term limit on himself once again, as he did after three terms in Congress during the 1990s. But he did not say by how many terms he would limit himself this time.
He added that he is seeking office to serve taxpayers and has never run from one office to another.
"I don't need a job. ... I don't need this for the money," he said, adding that he has disclosed his financial interest on a federally required form that shows nearly $200,000 in earnings in 2012 for providing commentary on Fox News and serving on two corporate boards. He also earned more than $100,000 from rent, capital gains and partnerships.
Sanford said his motivation in seeking office is to "make a difference" for his children and "for your kids, for your grandkids."
Bostic has yet to submit his financial form. He has said he asked for an extension to ensure the form would be filled out properly.
Bostic, who said the majority of his law practice is working for small oil and gas companies, added that the form requires him to list every client who has paid him at least $5,000, a task that some clients are resisting and will require some time for his accountant to accomplish. He and his wife, Jenny Bostic, also run a charity that operates in six countries and includes two orphanages. He said he hopes to submit the form within the next few days.
The candidates, both of whom consider themselves fiscal conservatives, agreed on many questions posed by the audience, including a willingness to create a Jasper County port without federal earmarks, to push for a Constitutional amendment requiring term limits and an aversion to additional restrictions on gun ownership.
Bostic was more aggressive in his desire to cut foreign aid to countries such as Egypt that are not friendly to the United States.
Sanford also said any wasteful spending should be stopped but added that such aid was a small piece of the national budget and, ultimately, cheaper than military intervention.
Audience members' preferences seemed split.
"Both of them are very articulate," said Charles Davis, a longtime Sanford supporter who appreciates that Bostic is a Marine like him.
Ultimately, Davis, a lieutenant colonel, said Sanford's experience will best serve voters.
"I've lived up there in Washington and saw how the place operates. Six years (of experience) can make a difference," he said.
Robert Lenz of Hilton Head said he will vote for Bostic.
"Mark has great experience and a lot of knowledge. But I think he's morally challenged. I can forgive him, but that doesn't mean I want him to represent me," Lenz said, referring to Sanford's secret exit from the state in 2009 for an extramarital affair.
Lenz said he likes Bostic's social and fiscal conservatism, applauding his answer on gun rights, in which Bostic said the problem is not the availability of assault weapons but a culture that no longer puts a priority on the family.