April 24th, 2013
02:08 PM ET
9 years 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. Romney is Still NOT My Hero

    I'll bet this poster mopped the floor with him in the debate. You go, poster!

    April 24, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota


    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.

    Big talker, indeed. To a cardboard cutout, no less. This whole thing is foolish beyond belief. Gives a new meaning to his disappearence on the hiking trail. Dude probably never knew where he was to begin with back then.

    April 24, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  3. Jen

    Mark, I think hiking the Ap Trail suits you better as that is where your talents lie dude. Is this state ready to have Ms Argentina as their new "first lady" while his kids whom he neglected on Fathers day look on...

    April 24, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. Jeff--Tacoma

    Stunts like this are what candidates do when they are desperate. Hopefully the fine folks of SC see this sleeze for what he is. Sneeking around in your ex-wifes house using a cell phone as a flashlight, seriously?

    April 24, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  5. PJ

    @Romney is Still NOT My Hero:
    That's hysterical. Still laughing..................."You go poster" – love it!

    April 24, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    He is going to debate a poster of someone else? Is that what I see? If that is the case, then it shows that he is truly unaware of what is going on.

    April 24, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  7. frespech

    Sanford- that crap didn't go over that well for Eastwood. Try and learn from the mistakes of others or risk repeating them.

    April 24, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  8. rs

    Uh-oh, the poster is WINNING!

    April 24, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. JohnRJohnson

    Very funny. If he ever debated the real Nancy Pelosi, she would hand him his breakfast, lunch & dinner.

    April 24, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  10. Wake up People!

    Even as a cardboard cutout Nancy Pelosi could wipe the floor with this adulterer.

    Go cutout!!

    April 24, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  11. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Are you sure that isn't Obama in Drag. He never shows up for anything either. Maybe it is the Democrat Controlled Senate. They never do anything. Talking to democrats is about like talking to a Mud Fence. Only intellegent replies here please.

    April 24, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. sonny chapman

    He sure can't run on HIS own record, both Public & Private. No, Repubs. NEED a Boogerman. Without the fear of the different , Repubs can't exist.

    April 24, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  13. PJ

    "Are you sure that isn't Obama in Drag......................only intellegent replies here please".
    Okay, but only after intelligent comments are made.

    April 24, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  14. Jeff Brown in jersey

    Didn't Clint Eastwood pull a stunt like this a few months ago? Sanford is not only a liar, a cheater and a crook, he doesn't have an original thought in his head!

    April 24, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  15. Carly

    That's probably the only way he likes women–two dimensional with no way to respond.

    April 24, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  16. Larry L

    I'll bet he was checking out her cleavage on the poster...

    April 24, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. Evergreen

    Creeepy....Does he hear her talking back?

    April 24, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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