In South Carolina politics, two very different campaign styles
May 5th, 2013
01:45 PM ET
12 months ago

In South Carolina politics, two very different campaign styles

Charleston, South Carolina (CNN) – The race for the open U.S. House seat in South Carolina's special election Tuesday showcases two very different candidates with two very different campaign styles.

Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch is criss-crossing the district in a fully wrapped tour bus with her name plastered along the outside. It's a look that evokes a presidential campaign. She travels with an entourage that, this weekend, included Jon Bauman, better known as Bowzer from the rock group Sha Na Na. He goes with her to rallies and sings a few chords from "Blue Moon," ending with "Vote for Colbert Busch" in his booming low voice.

She's gotten cash and support from national Democrats but the bigger boost is from having a high-profile brother like Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report."

She is very outgoing, shakes hands, hugs lots of babies and talks about the issues, all while her campaign staff are close at hand.

Contrast that with her opponent, former Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, whose 2009 extramarital affair tarnished his reputation. He says he is running a very grass-roots campaign. Many of his campaign signs are hand-painted pressed wood signs that look like children may have spray-painted them. He usually travels with a single aide in a small Chevy SUV and stops by businesses and restaurants unannounced.

He often starts his greeting to voters with an apology, saying he's "sorry for being rude and interrupting" while people are eating or talking. But he always adds that he hopes they'll "consider him" when they vote on Tuesday. He rarely uses the word "vote."

Another difference: Sanford does not like to campaign on Sundays. Even this Sunday, two days before the election, his campaign is dark. There are no events scheduled and no campaigning.

Meanwhile, Colbert Busch has scheduled a news conference and then is knocking on doors in a Charleston neighborhood.

While Sanford was considered the favorite heading into the special election, recent Democratic-leaning polls have indicated the race is in a dead heat toward the finish line.

Sunday morning, the local paper, The Post and Courier, gave Colbert Busch its endorsement. It says she "offers a balanced alternative to her GOP opponent Mark Sanford. He held the 1st District seat for a self-limited three terms, then later served two gubernatorial terms marred by near-constant conflict with his fellow Republicans who ran the Legislature."

It even says the district has "Sanford fatigue," described as "a malady caused by overexposure to all of the cringe-worthy details of his 2009 disgrace as governor, his ongoing efforts for redemption via the political process, his resurgent personal problems, etc. "

On Saturday, Sanford won his own endorsement from the fiscally conservative group the Tea Party Express. Amy Kremer, the group's chairwoman, said she backs him because he doesn't just "claim to be a fiscal conservative but has actually acted as a fiscal conservative. And has a record as a governor and congressman of being fiscally responsible."

As for Sanford's checkered past, Kremer said, "That's between Gov. Sanford, God and his family. I'm gonna leave that to the man upstairs."

"All I'm concerned about is sending a congressman to Washington that's going to do something about this out of control spending."

She notes that "the Democrats forgave Bill Clinton, and these voters seem to have forgiven (Sanford) because he went through a rough primary. He's now the nominee, and we're here to stand with him."

Sanford said the topic of his past rarely comes up on the trail. "You'll hear people talking about issues and ideas that are important to their pocketbook their wallet, their ability to provide for their family and for themselves," he said. "It has not been representative of what I talk to folks about on a daily basis."


Filed under: House • Mark Sanford • South Carolina
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. timvervba

    Amy Kremer notes that "the Democrats forgave Bill Clinton..."

    True Democrats have forgiven President Clinton, but he has not been elected to another office. Even Senator Hilary Clinton was rejected as the presidential nominee in 2008, where at least two of Bill Clinton's former DNC party chairmen opposed her campaign. Personal forgiveness does not mean public license.

    May 5, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  2. Thomas

    It is almost funny that this guy would run for office again , even more funny is that he mint win .

    May 5, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  3. emskadittle

    It does amazes me that the republicans, who are supposed to be really religious will continue vote for candidates who have cheated on their wives

    May 5, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  4. NEVER to VOTE REPUBLICAN again

    Go Elizabeth!

    May 5, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. plain&simple

    If you vote Sanford into office again....how do you expect him to govern??? The same way history has revealed???

    May 5, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  6. Independent Thinker

    Again I am appalled as a South Carolinian, that we are even thinking of re-electing Mark Sanford. Please just because you have voted Republican for life, don't hold your nose and vote for this man. We need someone who is honest, wants what's best for this state and is not going to abandon us again. My gut feeling about all of this, is Mark needs an income and going to congress is his way of achieving it. Bearing in mind he already gets a congressional pension, will he also receive that and his pay for serving in congress again. Sorry but I can't help thinking this man is going to double dip and is very much the hypocrite.

    May 5, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  7. AK_Steve

    Why is it OK for a Republican to willing deceive his entire state and use tax payer money to commit adultery? They wanted Clintons head when this happen in the 90's. You know why it is OK... because the GOP are unethical hypocrites.

    May 5, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  8. steve-0

    I didn't know women were allowed to vote in South Carolina.

    May 5, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  9. ST

    There is no comparison between what Bill Clinton and Sanford did. First of all Sanford's wife didn't forgive him. She is the person who knows him better than anyone else. She knew and still knows he is not going to change at all. She was right as the mistress didn't go away instead she moved in. What assurance the voters of S.Carolina have to think now is a very changed person only in politics? Folks, just think twice before casting your votes.

    May 5, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  10. Larry L

    Sanford couldn't get a security clearance if he was an officer in the military. He would have been held for charges for his AWOL. Strange how he could even be considered to hold an office in the Congress of the United States.

    May 5, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  11. T

    ...........Straight up,.....HONEST....smart.....................versus.......LIAR, CHEAT, abandoner of hos FAMILY............
    .
    ............guess South Carolina will show itself this election............................MO ronics,........or SMARTS...........

    May 5, 2013 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  12. The Dude

    It's obvious Sanford can't find or hold down a real job. He's not a public servant...he's a public liability.

    May 5, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  13. don in albuquerque

    Forgiveness my butt. This guy played loose and easy with the tax payers money because he could not keep his zipper up. One thing you can always expect from an adulterer is he will do it again. It appears that adultry among all politicians is not a sin..........it is a committment.

    May 5, 2013 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  14. LiberalTearsAreDelicious

    Sanford will win because he is for lower taxes and smaller gov't... Anyone who votes against him is not voting on the issues.

    Steve... Clinton was guilty of PERJURY in a Grand Jury investigation. That my friend IS a serious crime. It was a serious enough issue it got him DisBarred from practicing law

    May 5, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  15. Ken

    He proved himself to be a CLOWN when he debated a cardboard cutout.

    May 5, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  16. cthrurlies

    The tea party wants to send in Sanford because they want to stop the out of control spending in Washington! What a joke. Where were the big conservatives when we funded two wars based on lies on a credit card? What about the Bush tax cuts and the payoff to big Pharmaceutical companies in the form of Medicare part D? What about TARP that gave the too big to fail banks trillions of dollars. Bush signed that, yes he did. The Republicans are the worst hypocrites to ever walk the planet. They destroyed the economic stability of this country. Sanford needs to go crawl his adulterous hide under a rock.

    May 6, 2013 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  17. Marie MD

    If repug voters stay true sanford will win because he is everything their family values are against but they seem to gravitate to the sinner, adulterer, liar and all those other "sins" that are in the bible and are a no no.

    May 6, 2013 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  18. GonzoinHouston

    Before you attempt a comeback, you need to spend some time laying low t

    May 6, 2013 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  19. GonzoinHouston

    Oops! Laying low to let the emotions cool. Sanford is trying to come back while the wounds are still not yet healed. He needs to go private for several more years, like maybe forever?

    May 6, 2013 07:28 am at 7:28 am |