Alex Witt | May 04, 2013
>>> in south carolina politics , the moment of truth is just three days away . that's when voters decide between former republican governor mark sanford and his opponent elizabeth colbert busch in a special election for a vacant congressional seat. for the first time in more than 30 years a house seat in the deep red palmetto state could turn blue going to a democrat. joining me for more, a corey hutchins. thanks for being here.
>> thank you. thanks for having me.
>> now, sanford held that congressional seat for six years before serving two terms as governor so he definitely has the experience. south carolina is a strong republican state, yet polls show him neck and neck with colbert busch in this race. what did he do wrong in this campaign?
>> maybe it's not what he did wrong in this campaign particularly but what he's done in previous years. obviously his well-publicized affair with the argentine mistress certainly derailed any national political aspirations the governor of south carolina had. a lot of folks thought he was on a trajectory towards the white house . instead, he decides he wants to go back to congress and the question was whether, you know, republican voters there would take him back and, boy, they sure did. he made it into a runoff, and he cleared that, and here he is. and i think it's made national republicans pretty worried because they've dealt with this across the country where they've had these pyrrhic victories with these purist conservatives who win in primaries but they're compromised because of maybe some wacky things they have said or done and they end up going down in the gem election and that's what the republicans are worried about happening on tuesday.
>> you mentioned some of his personal problems that have been subject matter in this race, but at the same time does the fact that he even made it this far speak to some kind of political redemption? is this the beginning of a comeback for him regardless of what happens on tuesday?
>> well, that's clear. whether this was a professional, political, or personal journey for mark sanford he's come a long way surely. but also it's south carolina where we wiped away 30 years of tradition in the gop presidential primary this year when the republicans in south carolina nominated newt gingrich , who, you know, had his own problems with marital infidelity. however, the people in this district actually went for mitt romney , so it kind of might show a little more moderation here.
>> as we know, money often plays a huge role in political campaigns . how do these two candidates compare when it comes to fund-raising and spending?
>> well, the national republicans have pulled out of financing mark sanford 's race. the national democrats have gone all in with elizabeth colbert w bush who raised about $1.1 million and that doesn't include all the pac money that's coming in to air ads and do other things. mark sanford has still done a pretty good job raising about $800,000, and he's made a really big deal about the national money coming in and funding his opponent.
>> now, you mention the state gop pulling their funding from sanford. that happened after his ex-wife accused him of trespassing in her 40e78. we also haven't really seen any big-name republicans rally around him until very recently. so has the gop done enough to hold onto the seat.
>> it was the national gop that pulled out. that's interesting and that's something i think that will really kind of have national implications with whatever happens on tuesday. you know, do republicans -- do they want to keep, you know, going for these purist conservatives who win their primaries and back them in a general or are they going to back away from them and kind of hope that maybe gop republican primary voters don't keep doing this?
>> what's the perception of elizabeth colbert busch and how she's handled this campaign?
>> i think she's handled it pretty well because she -- i saw in the paper today somebody mentioned she had a stage managed campaign. i think that's true. the democrats chose an outside of the box candidate. they didn't go with a county councilman or a mayor or local state rep. they went with somebody that the political class in south carolina wasn't necessarily familiar with but had incredible star power . she's the sister of steven colbert . that's going to obviously bring a lot of national attention and with that comes a lot of money and i think the d triple cs played a big role. they did not debate mark sanford as much as the former governor wanted. he wanted about four debates. she ended up only doing one. i think that worked in her favor.
>> and do you think, you mentioned stephen colbert , do you think the colbert factor played in this race significantly? sh
>> sure, yeah. he held several fund-raisers for her. everybody is familiar with the colbert bump .
>> thank you for being here this afternoon. we appreciate it.
>> thank you. appreciate it.