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Morning Joe
updated 5/7/2013 9:19:29 AM ET 2013-05-07T13:19:29

Admitting that his "deficiencies as a candidate and as a human" are well-chronicled, a worn out Mark Sanford joined the Morning Joe panel on the morning of the South Carolina special election, which he hopes will allow him to return to politics.

A weary Mark Sanford joined the Morning Joe panel on the morning of the South Carolina special election to make one last appeal to voters, particularly women who he has struggled to appeal to in the race.

“It’s been well-chronicled, my deficiencies as a candidate and as a human,” Sanford said. “It’s also been well-chronicled, my record of watching out for the taxpayer, whether it’s their purse or wallet.”

The former South Carolina governor closed a nine-point gap in the polls over the last two weeks against opponent Elizabeth Colbert Busch, all while dealing with a messy divorce (he’s due in court on Thursday over trespassing charges against his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford) and a scandalous political past (while on the job as governor, Sanford infamously disappeared to South America to visit a mistress.)

Polls released on Monday put the two opponents in a dead heat.

How’s he feeling today?

“Worn out. It’s been a long five months,” he admitted. “You spend months of your life rather intensely talking about ideas you believe in, talking about themes that you think are important to the direction of the country and you get ultimately to the day of judgment.”

Sanford said the debate against Colbert Busch helped him in the polls, because they began “finally talking issues” like Obamacare, something Sanford said he would pull funding from, if there was ever an opportunity.

He also said he would have voted against the recent bipartisan Senate background checks bill and the immigration bill that Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is currently trying to sell.

Video: Mark Sanford: Mistakes can become refining to our lives

  1. Closed captioning of: Mark Sanford: Mistakes can become refining to our lives

    >>> welcome back to " morning joe ." joining us mark sanford . mark, good to have you on the show this morning. how are you feeling?

    >> well, you know, worn out, all the things i guess you feel at the end of a campaign.

    >> okay. so what do you think? first of all, everyone's saying you're going to leave politics if this doesn't go through. what's your attitude on the day before knowing how this is going to turn out?

    >> well, i mean, you know, as joe can attest, harold's there onset. you spend months of your life rather intensively out talking to people, talking about ideas you believe in, talking about themes you think are important in terms of the direction of the country. and you get ultimately to the day of judgment and today is that day and, again, you feel a mixture of calm in that you've worked so hard and you're waiting for the verdict. and at the same time as i mentioned a moment ago, worn out and it's been a long five months.

    >> and given, you know, the journey that you've been on and the personal issues at play, how are the polls looking in terms of women and certain votes you might have lost given all that's happened?

    >> well, you know, well chronicled deficiencies as a candidate and human being . and we've walked through those at length here in the first congressional district . but i also have equally well chronicled record in terms of watching out for the taxpayer, whether their purse or wallet. and so in essence we've had a conversation here at home. not only about my strengths and weaknesses as a human being , but also my belief in terms of things that ought to be affecting washington, d.c. and, indeed the direction of our country. themes of how do you create more opportunity here in this district. and, in fact, how do you have more in the way of representation, a local ear if you will, than not. so we had a robust conversation as to specific groups. i think we saw those play out. it boiled down to a runoff, won both of those races and now for the last five, six weeks, we've been in this truncated general election . and that election will take place today.

    >> steve schmidt, wonder what you make of the dynamics of this race and how it's been handled in the press and how each candidate has handled the sort of careful dynamics of it.

    >> well, this is a south carolina special election , this is a republican seat. obviously because of the congressman's scandalous behavior, he's in a difficult position. he's under 50%. it's a toss-up, anything can happen in a special election . what i'd be curious to know is what's the last thing, congressman, what's the last thing, governor, that you want voters focused on as they go into the poll here? obviously not on your past behavior.

    >> well, it has absolutely been the topic of much conversation here. it's been the topic of about $1 million worth of attack ads against me. it's not a new issue. i think, though, there are two interesting trend lines that have emerged in the last couple of weeks of the campaign. we finally had a debate. we've been asking for a debate. finally got a debate. in the aftermath, when we begin to lay out on where we sit in a whole host of issues, there was a real contrast and i think that ultimately has helped us. we will see --

    >> what other contrasts?

    >> it's helped us because --

    >> well, for instance, take something as simple as obama care. i think you look at the, you know, the numbers and they say it's going to add over $6 trillion to the national debt . a variety of different levees and levels. and there's genuine concern here.

    >> what's the difference between --

    >> on one side --

    >> well, i mean, i'm decidedly against it and decidedly for defunding it if you had the chance to do so. and my opponent is not. but my main point is we begin to finally talk issues as opposed to just personality and as opposed to going back to the events of 2009 . our minister gave a great sermon a couple weeks ago and due to the event of your life define or redefine your life. people want to take any event that was not good and make it definitional to your life. and i think a lot of conversations have moved, talking around through people in the district, no, we're all going to make mistakes in life. we all have feet of clay, but those events can be not definitional but refining to our lives and become a better person for it. one, there's been conversation on issues, the other has been a conversation on the degree to which this race has been nationalized. this is the first congressional election, special congressional election since the president was reelected. it's the only special election now taking place in the country. and what many have said is, wait a minute, nancy pelosi and associated groups didn't pour in more than $1 million into this race for independents. they poured in for a safe vote and has much to do with the president's strategy of taking back the house in 2014 because what many people have come to believe down here is that if they could pull off a win here, they could make the case to the political investor community as to why they could win the over 16 seats.

    >> we don't have a lot of time left. we're going to do some quick questions, quick answers.

    >> okay. so we should note that we asked elizabeth colbert busch to be on the show, she declined. for those who agree with your opinions and your -- the issues on your record and your opinions on debt, the deficit and governing, but are concerned about how you left office and what happened. how do you answer the question, can voters trust you?

    >> well, i'd turn it around to you, mika, i'd say, i guarantee, we don't know each other at a personal level. but i guarantee you've made some mistake in your life where somebody could raise that very question to you. i could turn it around to anybody on the set and say, one event does not define your life. i had an old-timer come to me and say, you know, i'm not going to judge you on your worst day any more than on your best day.

    >> mark, what if i screw up every day? i am human mission field. will people forgive me if i make horrible mistakes every day. is that okay?

    >> well, i guess it'd be tough if there was a pattern every day. you might be stretching it with the --

    >> i somehow managed to get by. let's go to gene robinson . gene will tell you how to screw up every day.

    >> i have a couple quick questions. my first, governor, you did pay a fine, as i recall, for ethics violations in conjunction with that personal history of yours. how have you explained that to south carolina voters? and also, as polls have tightened, have you gotten any sort of response from national republicans who abandoned you.

    >> i love when gene speaks french, i don't know what he said, but it sounded good.

    >> well, you know, i think we've explained it because it's explainable. without going into the details, basically it boiled down to half of those fines were because we used business class tickets on on legitimate trcommerce trips. every other governor in the past, go down the list have used business class tickets. but when people say, wait a minute, you're telling me he got this because he used business class tickets on and he was singled out? senators were on the same trips with me. every secretary of commerce, senior level staff within commerce. it was not an anomaly. some people have said well, in that regard, it seemed like a witch hunt . i'm not saying it was that, but there was more to the story than met the eye.

    >> how would you vote on the background legislation, guns?

    >> i'm a big second amendment person. a and, so, the present bill i would have voted no because i think you've got to dig down deep to define what a gun show is. if it's a couple of guys in the back of a pickup truck trading a gun, i don't know if that fits as a gun show .

    >> depends on what they're trading it for.

    >> harold ford , governor, quick question in the same vein my friend asked, how would you vote on an immigration bill ? one highly proposed by marco rubio and your own senator lindsey graham .

    >> what i would say is i think we can learn from history with regard to policy. and the last big immigration bill was in 1986 with the simpson missoula bill and offered amnesty down the line. reagan signed that bill into law believing that would be the case. ultimately the enforcement never came and as a consequence, having a conversation about 11 million undocumented workers years later. i think you've got to reverse it and begin with enforcement first before you get to amnesty. i would not support the goal in the present form. i do like what it does with regard to high-tech workers and i think we probably need to have more of a conversation on low-tech workers and against worker programs.

    >> all right. mike sanford , thank you so much. good luck tonight.

    >> thank you, mark.

    >> thank you, as well. you're going to be looking, of course, your column in the washington post . in syria, that arm wrestling contest between you and your fellow " washington post " columnist.

    >>> on tomorrow's show, we'll be talking to mike thompson and peter king . they have come together to bring the background check for criminals and terrorists in the house. sort of a manchin/toomey version in the house. we'll be back in a moment on " morning joe ."

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