In a raucous debate in front of an animated crowd of South Carolinians, former S.C.
Watch the full replay of the debate here.
Colbert Busch came into the evening ahead in the polls, and the consensus was that this was perhaps Sanford’s last, best chance to change the dynamics of the race for South Carolina’s first congressional district. As such, Sanford came out on the attack, and Colbert Busch worked to parry him and counterattack throughout the night.
With an apparently friendly audience on her side, she seemed to weather Sanford’s attacks throughout the evening. When Sanford tried to embarrass her by pointing out that she had donated to his gubernatorial campaign, Colbert Busch said she was guilty of listening to Sanford’s campaign promises about supporting maritime businesses, and that “You didn’t tell the truth. You did the opposite.”
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Colbert Busch fought back. In what may have been a novel attempt to avoid an embarrassing discussion of his extramarital affairs and “disappearance” during this term as governor, Sanford claimed he didn’t hear Colbert Busch when she referenced the scandal.
Colbert Busch cast herself as a self-made woman who “started off making $6 an hour,” but climbed her way up the corporate ladder to be a successful executive. While she said Obamacare was greatly flawed, she cheered the fact that under the legislation, “You can’t charge a woman more based on gender.”
For his part, Sanford linked himself to a range of conservative causes: Ronald Reagan, the budget-slashing congressional class of 1994 of which he was a part, and the Cato institute. And he tried to link Colbert-Busch to Obamacare, federal stimulus money and, most frequently, Nancy Pelosi.
On immigration, the two candidates argued to a standstill about the bill that South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham and seven other senators have supported. Sanford said he “would not vote for the bill in its present form.” Colbert Busch said she would support it, because, “We need tough, fair immigration form. You pay your taxes, you pay your fines, and you got the back of the line for a path to citizenship.”
In a striking display of how much the ground has shifted on the debate around gay rights, Sanford worked to disassociate himself from his vote for the Defense of Marriage Act in the 1990s, while Colbert Busch celebrated gay marriage (and quoted Dick Cheney) in calling it “a civil rights issue.”
Both candidates promised to reach across the aisle in Washington, D.C. if elected. Sanford said the scandals that dogged him as Governor would allow him to return to D.C. more humble. He said he was worried about the direction of the country if drastic spending changes weren’t made.
Colbert Busch promised to focus on the economy and take a pay cut as she was trying to get the nation’s “fiscal house in order” and sounded a hopefuly final note, announcing that “our best days are ahead of us.”