MOUNT PLEASANT — Former Gov. Mark Sanford said Monday he stands by his decision to watch the Super Bowl with his son at his ex-wife’s house in February even though it resulted in a trespassing complaint in family court.
“I am going to make a call occasionally as a dad on what I think is in the best interest of our youngest son, and, at times, my ex-wife may not agree with it, and that’s why you have the family court system,” he told reporters during a campaign stop at a tire store. “I continue to believe I made the right call.”
The complaint prompted the National Republican Congressional Committee to pull support from his congressional campaign last week. “I’ve never depended on folks in Washington to get me elected. That’s been consistent for 20 years,” Sanford said Monday.
Sanford faces Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch and Green Party candidate Eugene Platt on May 7 in a special election in the 1st Congressional District to fill the seat once held by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.
Sanford attacked Colbert Busch for running what he called a stealth campaign. He said her campaign is fueled by $1 million in out-of-state money but that voters in the 1st Congressional District don’t know where she stands on the issues.
“It gets your blood flowing when somebody is dumping $1 million on your head and trying to run an air war and TV war without debating you in public,” Sanford said.
“Elizabeth is thoroughly enjoying talking with South Carolina voters. She has held nine public events over the past eight days, and she’ll have a robust public schedule in the coming week to talk with voters,” said Colbert Busch’s campaign spokesman James Smith.
There is only one debate scheduled before the special election, a radio debate next Monday at The Citadel sponsored by the Patch news service and the South Carolina Radio Network.
Sanford took out a full-page ad in The Post and Courier on Sunday, explaining what led to the trespassing charge and responding to Democratic attack ads, including one saying he broke voters’ trust in 2009 by using taxpayer money to travel to Argentina to visit his mistress.
Sanford disappeared from the state, only to return to say he was having an affair with the woman to whom he is now engaged. Sanford and his wife Jenny subsequently divorced.
A veterans group, the VoteVets Action Fund, announced Monday that it was spending $30,000 on an ad criticizing Sanford. In it, retired National Guard Colonel Barry Wingard of South Carolina says he would have been court-martialed had he left the state like Sanford.
The trespassing complaint stems from Sanford watching the second half of the Super Bowl at Jenny Sanford’s house on Sullivans Island without her permission.
“By original accounts you would have thought I was randomly sneaking around the house at Sullivans, when in fact I was returning a son from a neighborhood Super Bowl party,” the ad said, adding that after trying to reach his ex-wife, father and son then watched the game together. Sanford met Jenny Sanford leaving the house as he was using a cellphone as a flashlight.
Sanford said Monday when voters heard about incident “it’s like oh my goodness, is this the type of guy who goes around through hedges with a cellphone flashlight? But once they get the real picture it is a lot to do about nothing.”
Colbert Busch had no public appearances Monday.
But her campaign released a statement attacking Sanford for voting against funding for the Export-Import which Boeing, which has a major plant in North Charleston, uses to sell its planes overseas.
But Sanford said the votes when he was in Congress in the 1990s were against using money from the Social Security Trust Fund for the bank.