CHARLESTON — Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford returns to the campaign trail next week and wants his Democratic congressional opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, to join him.
Sanford, the GOP nominee for the vacant 1st District seat, has been dealing with the fallout from a trespassing complaint filed in divorce court by his ex-wife Jenny – a complaint that prompted the National Republican Congressional Committee to pull support from his campaign.
The campaign released a statement Friday saying Sanford plans to make 15 stops in five days next week in the Republican-leaning district on the state’s coast.
“To date my opponent has refused to do any joint public appearances or debate the issues for the benefit of voters in the 1st District,” Sanford said. “Without debate on issues we are getting what President Obama and Nancy Pelosi gave us with ObamaCare – pass it and then you can see what’s in it. Now, it’s vote for Colbert Busch and then see where she stands on the issues.”
The Colbert Busch campaign did not respond directly, but said that the candidate, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, has her own aggressive campaign schedule for the coming three weeks. She has scheduled a full day of events in Beaufort County for today.
“She is actively talking with the voters of the 1st District about her agenda for creating new jobs and getting our fiscal house in order,” said campaign spokesman James Smith.
At least one joint appearance with the candidates is scheduled.
The Patch news service and the South Carolina Radio Network are sponsoring an April 29 debate at The Citadel about a week before the May 7 special election.
Sanford has kept a low profile since earlier this week when The AP obtained court documents detailing the trespassing complaint. He made no public appearances Thursday. On Friday he appeared briefly on Charleston radio station WTMA to again explain why he was in his ex-wife’s house.
Sanford said his son was watching the Super Bowl in February at another house, didn’t like the crowd and wanted to go home at half time to watch someplace quieter. Sanford said he went with him. Sanford’s spokesman Joel Sawyer said Sanford would not be available for an interview Friday.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, which had conducted polling and provided additional resources for the campaign, said it would not provide more funding because officials worry Sanford will have difficulty with women voters.
House Democrats, meanwhile, are running attack ads saying Sanford broke voters’ trust in 2009 when he used taxpayer money to travel to Argentina to visit his mistress.
The $200,000 ad purchase by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee features an ad with grainy images of a man walking through the woods, a reference to staffers telling the media Sanford was hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was in Argentina with the woman who is now his fiancee.
The ad says Sanford violated the trust of voters, used taxpayer dollars to fly to Argentina “and then lied about it.”
Colbert Busch has refused to criticize Sanford’s past indiscretions, saying she will keep her campaign positive and focus on creating jobs.
After returning from Argentina in 2009, Sanford admitted the affair and he and Jenny Sanford divorced.