Martin Bashir
updated 4/9/2013 12:48:56 PM ET 2013-04-09T16:48:56

Personal indiscretions may be easier to overlook than the governor's ethical lapses in office.

Mark Sanford took a bit of a victory lap after his win in the Republican primary for South Carolina’s first Congressional district.

In an interview Wednesday on Morning Joe, Sanford spoke about his fall from grace after the disclosure of his extramarital affair.

He spoke of his long road back into the political arena, and his gratitude for being given a second chance.

What we saw last night in the Republican nomination was people give a verdict of yes, we appreciate, you know, where you come from–we don’t approve of everything you’ve done in life–but we’re going to give you a shot at carrying the Republican nomination and the conservative ideas forward into the general election. And I feel it’s a blessing and I’m thankful for it.

But what kind of conservative champion is the former South Carolina governor, who left office in 2011 after one of the more bizarre marital breakdowns in American political history? It may in the end be easier for conservatives to forgive Sanford’s infidelity to his wife than to forget his infidelity to conservative principles of limited public spending.

When stories broke in 2009 of Sanford’s affair with a woman from Argentina, they also turned up a mountain of evidence showing that his use of state airplanes was anything but conservative. Sanford ultimately had to reimburse the state of South Carolina $74,000 for the investigation into his “disappearance” on the Appalachian Trail and for personal and travel expenses that he had not acknowledged before the scandal hit.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), says the biggest problem facing Sanford in his race against Elizabeth Colbert Busch is his ethical lapses apart from the philandering:

Yes, God is a forgiving God, but he will not be voting–or she will not be voting–in this election. I think that the voters are going to make this determination and voters are concerned about ethics. And so that’s an issue he’s going to have to face.

Martin Bashir discussed Sanford’s problematic standing as a conservative with Republican strategist Hogan Gidley and James Peterson of Lehigh University. Watch their discussion here:


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