April 24th, 2013
02:08 PM ET
12 months ago

Mark Sanford debates poster

(CNN) - With just under two weeks to go until election day, an entertaining special election to fill a vacant House seat in South Carolina's first congressional district remains just that, entertaining.

The latest episode: GOP candidate and former Gov. Mark Sanford Wednesday debated a cardboard cutout poster of Nancy Pelosi, the former House speaker and current minority leader, in an attempt to call out his Democratic opponent Elizabeth Colbert Busch for not debating him in the 1st Congressional District race.

Sanford has invited Colbert Busch, the sister of satirist and comedy show host Stephen Colbert, to a series of debates prior to the May 7 special election, but the Democratic candidate has accepted only one on April 29 in Charleston.

"Since my opponent won't debate, we decided to 'debate' her biggest benefactor, Nancy Pelosi," said Sanford on Twitter, who says a vote for Colbert Busch would also be a vote for Pelosi, who has high negatives with Republican voters and who most likely would become House speaker again if the Democrats run the table and regain control of the chamber in the 2014 Midterm Elections.

"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," said Sanford, 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, an official with Clemson University's wind turbine drive testing facility, says the compressed time frame of the special election is forcing her to focus on talking with voters in the district instead of debating Sanford.

"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," said Colbert Busch press secretary James Smith Wednesday. "She doesn't have to resort to phony cardboard cutouts to talk with the people of South Carolina."

Sanford is seeking political redemption as he runs for a congressional seat he held for three terms in the 1990's. He was in his second term as governor in 2009 when he briefly disappeared from public view for several days and re-emerged, claiming he'd been hiking the Appalachian Trail. He later admitted that he was actually in Argentina, seeing the woman with whom he was having an affair. He's now engaged to that woman.

The episode sank any hopes Sanford had of making a bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Sanford and then-wife Jenny were divorced in 2010 and he finished his second term as governor in January 2011, exiting to what many thought would be political obscurity.

But he's back, beating out 15 other candidates to win the Republican nomination in a congressional district that the GOP has held for over 30 years.

Sanford was considered the favorite in the May election until two weeks ago, when court documents revealed his ex-wife, Jenny, had filed complaints against Sanford for trespassing on her property. He's scheduled for a court appearance two days after the election.

Not long after the story broke, the National Republican Congressional Committee announced it was pulling out of the race–and national Democratic groups announced they were throwing more money into the contest for the 1st Congressional District, a longtime Republican stronghold.

CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report


Filed under: Mark Sanford • South Carolina
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Data Driven

    It's South Carolina. The Pelosi stunt will work.

    April 24, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    I guess a chair was not available.

    April 24, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    What? He couldn't find a chair?

    April 24, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    That photo is a little fuzzy CNN...I can't tell which one is the cardboard cutout.

    April 24, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. thomase

    I want TEN DEBATES! Oh, you're too COWARDLY to come to my TEN DEBATES? What are you hiding speaker Boehner??

    April 24, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. John from Brooklyn

    This is just sad. Really, really sad. Of course this feels like the Clint Eastwood debacle last year....why would his advisors suggest he try to repeat it!?

    April 24, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. PJ

    And they take this guy seriously? I wonder if his "fiance" is having second thoughts.

    April 24, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  8. Al-NY,NY

    wow Sanford. THAT'S an original idea....... too bad this guy will get reelected. The sheep in SC would vote for the Grand Wizard before electing a democrat..especially one of "them union-luvin' soshulists"

    April 24, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. Guy

    Did he try to hit on her?

    April 24, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. Homer Simpson

    And the gop wonders why america thinks they are mentally challenged

    April 24, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. Guy

    "The sheep in SC would vote for the Grand Wizard before electing a democrat..especially one of "them union-luvin' soshulists"
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    It would be hard choice.

    April 24, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  12. Homer Simpson

    Most of us are wondering how this guy could even be in the race, this is where brothers take their sisters, easier than goin out to look for it, explains alot

    April 24, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  13. anotherGDlefty

    He's running against Colbert-Busch so he debates a cutout of Nancy Pelosi?
    Shouldn't he be debating a cutout of Colbert-Busch?

    Don't cry for him Argentina, go ahead and laugh out loud at him like a normal person would.

    Family values, check.
    Obeys the law, check.
    Tells the truth, check.
    Yep, he's the perfect GOTP candidate......for dog catcher.

    April 24, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  14. Tom

    Yeah, that plan worked so well for Clint Eastwood. I'm surprised all Republicans aren't doing it.

    April 24, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  15. Guy

    Homer Simpson
    "Most of us are wondering how this guy could even be in the race, this is where brothers take their sisters, easier than goin out to look for it, explains alot"

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Hey look Buckwheat, I don'know where you are from but my guess is you would not last long in South Carolina.

    April 24, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    -Stuffit

    Pelosi only lectures, demeans, degrades and lies. She engages in one way conversations, if she did not we would not be facing the catastrophe of Obozocare.
    *************
    Projecting, again?

    April 24, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  17. The Real Tom Paine

    Maybe he'll take the poster to a Super Bowl Party at Jenny's house.....

    April 24, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  18. rs

    Republicans are just so delusional!

    April 24, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  19. ST

    He is republican. They love cardboards. Here is the list: Karl Rove, Romney, Glen Beck, Lou Dobbs and so on and so forth!

    April 24, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    Seems about par for the course for the typical GOP/Teatroll male: talks big when he can make sure the woman can't talk back.

    April 24, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  21. Homer Simpson

    Oh sniffit, sorry you have tools using your name, but we know better than you turning republican on us, you have made an impression on someone.

    April 24, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    Debating a cardboard cutout, is he?
    How extremely - well, stupid - this man actually is ... yes?

    April 24, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. Babyboomer

    What a nut job this guy is.

    April 24, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. Alan

    It's sad really, having a(nother) republican grown man desire a(nother) woman's attention in a(nother) attempt to deceive the South Carolina public into not remembering his ineffectiveness in Congress because of his extra curricular marital activities the first time

    April 24, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  25. Homer Simpson

    Sorry to insult, but this guy has lied, left office, and acts as though the law does not apply to him, keep him out. im assuming your not voting for him, as you can spell correctly

    April 24, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
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