Alex Witt   |  May 04, 2013

Role of personality in the Sanford-Colbert Busch race

South Carolina Democratic Chair Dick Harpootlian and former Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party Katon Dawson join Mara Schiavocampo to discuss the congressional race between Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch. They evaluate the candidates’ debate performance, the effects of political endorsements for Mark Sanford, the female vote, and the role of personality in the election booth.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> mark sanford has picked up another endorsement for congress, but this one's more like a backhanded compliment. it comes from hustler magazine publisher larry flynt .

>> open embrace in the name of love making his sacred marriage vows was an act of bravery that has drawn my support.

>> flynt also says that no one has done more to expose the sexual hypocrisy of traditional values in america today, and he calls sanford america's greatest sex pioneer. not even sure if that's a good thing.

>>> the south carolina special general election is just three days away , and recent poll numbers give democratic opponent elizabeth colbert-deutsche the advanta but a right leaning poll has the candidates died. for the first time in 30 years democrats have a big shot of winning a house seat in the deep red palmetto state . joining me for more the south carolina democratic chair. thank you for being here this morning.

>> good morning.

>> thank you, mara.

>> right after sanford got charged with trespassing at his ex-wife's home the state gop cut his funding. has the state gop all but abandoned him?

>> well, all i can tell you is mark sanford has never probably in his history been outspent on television the way he has this cycle. but he has a core base of supporters, and it's a tight race. and we'll see what happens. but there's certainly ideological differences in the democrat party and the republican party and i'll give the democrats their due. they've made it all about mark's personal indiscretions. the mistakes he's made. and not about public policy . and so, right now it's a tight race.

>> and, dick, going in to this campaign's only debate earlier this week sanford had experience on his side but colbert-busch came out swinging and she did land a few punches. how do you evaluate both of their debate performances?

>> i mean i think both of them did well in parts and not so well in others. mark's problem is, it's not just the personal indiscretions, the fact when he was governor he spent taxpayer money paying for tickets to visit his argentinean mistress. he had the largest ethics fine in the history of the state and i think most of us would concede he did nothing to advance the state on education, on economics, and that's really what's dogging him. and, i think he had a hard time during the debate defending that and i think he was shocked to see elizabeth come out swinging as hard as she did. and i think -- i will agree with katon this is going to be a very close race. this is a district that voted 60% for mitt romney , 63% for tim scott . no republican has gotten less than 60% in that district in the last 20 years. so the fact that it's so close, i think, is testament to how hard she's worked and the great campaign she's run and what a flawed candidate mark sanford is.

>> now a few big name republicans like senators lindsey graham , tim scott and rand paul and governor nikki haley recently started rallying around sanford . but with the election just three days from now, is it too little, too late? where were they earlier?

>> i don't know. that's a lot of big, heavy duty firepower that governor sanford was lucky enough to bring in at the last minute. and that should make -- that could make a difference. i mean when you are down in the low country, you see six ads to one, a lot of out-of- state money, i'm not criticizing that, i'm just giving you the facts that she's running six ads to one against sanford and he's never had that kind of assault. of course he also gave the ammunition for them to make that assault on him. so it's a race that shouldn't have been won, i think dick would agree, anybody else who would have been nominated besides governor sanford probably would be a lot easier of a race and i'm not sure we'd be here this morning talking about it.

>> now, dick, winning this thing may boil down to securing the female vote. but there's a big question about whether or not women in south carolina trust mark sanford . what do you think when it comes to that?

>> i've seen polling numbers that indicate over 70% of the women don't like him. and there's a sanford fatigue in this state and especially in the first district. they'd like him to slink off back to wherever he was. he's got a plantation dune in buford, sit on the dock and fish, but get out of public life . i think all of us, republicans and democrats, will be glad when mark sanford is out of public life .

>> you know, i'll tell you the voters are going to have their say in the first district. it is tight. it is close. but the wonderful thing that the democrats have done is they haven't talked about a lot of public policy down there. if it was for lulu busch we wouldn't have boeing sitting down there, with the policies, so it has been i would say a race about personalities. and right now, it's going to be really tight, and whoever has the best get out the vote, not the best campaign, who's going to win that, and at the end of the day , that's what's going to happen on tuesday.

>> and katon to quickly follow up on something dick just said with sanford being a flawed candidate. what does it say about the fact that he is the candidate that now is competing? does that mean there were not stronger candidates on the republican side in south carolina ?

>> when you're in a district like that, 14 to 16 people running, mark sanford 's good at one thing. he's a good politician and electoral politics and he won it and to the victor go the spoils. but right now we're in a race that's unusually tight that shouldn't be. very competitive. shouldn't have had the national attention it had. and i'm not here to apologize for those apologize for those transgressions but that was fair game . that's what they're doing. we'll see how the voters take it. whether they take personality over public policy is what the answer is going to be on tuesday.

>> thank you both for being here this morning.