Republican congressional nominee Mark Sanford stood Wednesday morning alongside a life-sized photo of Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the site of what would have been the first debate between himself and his opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch.
Colbert Busch did not agree to participate in the debate at the Medical University of South Carolina, citing a tight schedule. The two are scheduled to appear in one debate Monday in Charleston.
"My opponent continues to run a stealth campaign, avoiding public appearances and refusing to commit to televised forums for the benefit of 1st district voters," Sanford said in a statement. "Since Elizabeth Colbert Busch refuses to articulate her views publicly, we are left to draw inferences for what she stands for on the basis of the groups that have made substantial monetary investments on her behalf."
Colbert Busch's campaign responded Wednesday: "While Mark Sanford continues his desperate campaign to deceive voters, Elizabeth Colbert Busch is spending her time with real people who support her campaign - today alone, she's meeting with a group of Republicans for Elizabeth Colbert Busch and a rally at Burke High School. She doesn't have to resort to phony cardboard cutouts to talk with the people of South Carolina."
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The "debate" gave the state's Democratic operatives a chance to have some fun at Sanford's expense:
"There's a crazy man walking around MUSC with a cardboard picture of Nancy Pelosi. If you see him, Do NOT confront him. Call the white coats," tweeted Lachlan McIntosh, a Lowcountry Democratic consultant.
"No one debates a cardboard cutout when they're winning," tweeted Tyler Jones, a Columbia-based Democratic strategist.
"Was Clint Eastwood's chair booked?" added Phil Bailey, another Columbia-based consultant, referring to Clint Eastwood's empty chair performance during this summer's Republican National Convention in Florida.