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Sanford Fights Back On Stimulus



South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is appearing in a new ad to defend his approach on the economic stimulus plan. (AP Photo by Brett Flashbnick)

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is going on offense in his prolonged battle with the Obama administration over the economic stimulus bill, appearing in a new ad in which he seeks to explain his position to the state's voters.

"For me, the easy thing would be to accept money handed out from Washington," he says in the ad. "But the easy thing isn't always the right thing."

In an interview with the Fix, Sanford said his decision to appear in the ad was based not on his national ambitions but rather on a desire to counter the incorrect information being peddled by the Democratic National Committee, which ran ads hitting him on stimulus, and his political opponents in the state.

"If I care about my standing as I leave office, which I do because I am going to live here the rest of my life, then you have to set the record straight," said Sanford.

The commercial is being paid for by Carolinians for Reform, a 501(C)(3) organization that was formed in 2005. Charleston attorney Jim Kuyk serves as the director of the group, which came under some scrutiny in 2007 when $100,000 left over from a state grant to help host a National Governors Association conference wound up its coffers.

Sanford has emerged as the leading opponent to Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus plan -- making national headlines by initially rejecting then accepting stimulus dollars earmarked for his state. That decision ended weeks of letter writing between Sanford and the White House as he sought to use hundreds of millions headed to the state to pay down its debt and was told by the Obama administration that that was not an acceptable use of the money.

"It's not surprising that Governor Sanford feels he needs to spend a quarter of a million dollars defending himself in a television ad after rejecting millions in funding for his state," said DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan. "Then again, if I had rejected $700 million for schools and public safety, I'd feel the need to go on TV and defend myself too, but that doesn't excuse Governor Sanford for putting his political ambitions ahead of the needs of South Carolinians."

Sanford clearly has his eye on a presidential bid in 2012 and views this fight with the White House over government spending as a perfect way to elevate his national profile among conservative voters who view smaller government as one of the pillars of their party.

In the short term, however, Sanford is being pummeled politically in his own state.

"The political math on it is certainly clear -- it's a political loser," he acknowledged. "It is burning not building political capital."

Of course, Sanford won't be standing for election in South Carolina anytime soon so the flack he has drawn in state is likely to be less of a concern for him than for a politician who will be facing the voters in the next few years.

Plus, Sanford has made a career out of his principled opposition to popular government programs -- from his six years in Congress to his six and a half years as governor. The Sanford brand, then, is very much tied up with his defense of his stance on the stimulus dollars: "I am doing it because it's what I believe."

Make no mistake: Sanford is preparing to run for president in 2012. And, like him or hate him, he has staked out some solid ground among the most rabid of fiscal conservatives by picking this fight.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 9, 2009; 3:41 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2012 , Governors  
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Comments

Aw shucks; now they want their money; and I thought we were going to get their share here in Cal. Can we have it anyway, since they (Palin, Jindal and Sanford) don't REALLY want it?

Posted by: nwsjnky1 | April 11, 2009 5:09 AM | Report abuse

"Rino - Republican in name only"
That would be our Libertarian governor, Sanford. The character, compassion, and service of Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower (when service really meant something)is the heart of the real Republican. A wise teacher once told me, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." Sanford doesn't care about people.

Posted by: PalmettoPride | April 10, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Sanford is the best governor we've had here in 30 plus years. The Dems and the Rhino's can't stand him because he's been trying to cut out all of their pork spending but, every time he vetoes their out of control spending they override it. If we take the portion of stimulus he's rejecting we'll have to raise taxes to support it in two years.

Posted by: cfd007 | April 10, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Continuum and Nosy Parker (and others),

You've hit the nail on the head.

Sanford is an arrogant jerk who has managed to not only make Democrats and Independents want to hurl, but he has also completely PO'd the Republicans - especially the Good Ole Boys Network. True, there are some Republicans who buy his obstructionist, egocentric grandstanding as actually policy-building efforts, but in fact, he has accomplished NOTHING in the past eight years.

His lack of support for public schools is shameful in the extreme.

He says he wants to make over state government, which is a great, long-overdue idea - but instead of engaging his own party's state legislators, he merely does everything he can to humiliate them, then complains when they shun him.

He claims to be a fiscal conservative, but brings no practical solutions and real effort to the table. On the other hand, he did bring two piglets into the State House, once. As far as I know, they did NOT end up on his table, but I believe they DID manage to poop on the carpet.

Finally, since everyone seems to think the South, and particularly South Carolina, is redder than red, let me assure you that I have been deeply pleased to see the sheer number of pro-Obama bumper stickers around the Midlands. I firmly believe that however many there are openly displayed, there are exponentially more moderates and liberals who just don't feel like arguing with anyone.

Posted by: melangell | April 10, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: jamiesandersongcdp | April 10, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

..oh oh, take the money and run..

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 10, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Gov. Sanford wants to use stimulus money to pay off S.C. debts.

What happened to conservative republican fiscal responsibility???

Sanford has been in office for 6+ years and now he wants the federal government to pay his debts???
What's with that?

Posted by: knjincvc | April 9, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: mlipsius | April 9, 2009 5:22 PM
"Sanford, Palin, Perry, Jindal---is this the best that the GOP can do? There was a time when the GOP had a large and vibrant progressive wing. What happened to the party of Lincoln, T.R. and Eisenhower? This is not my father's Republican party."

The GOP as a party ended with Barry Goldwater.
Nixon took it down the dark path of hatred and racism.

Posted by: knjincvc | April 9, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Hey king_of_zouk | April 9, 2009 4:10 PM

Got your tin foil hat on??
It's a fuuuuulllll moon tonight!!!

Posted by: knjincvc | April 9, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Governor Sanford says, "I don't want the money." Then he says, "I'll take the money." Now he looks to cover his backside on this issue via commercials. Call it what it is Cillizza: flip-flop! Sanford flip-flops so much on this one you would think he was a fish out of water and on the ground!!!

Posted by: meldupree | April 9, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

"Sanford, Palin, Perry, Jindal---is this the best that the GOP can do? There was a time when the GOP had a large and vibrant progressive wing. What happened to the party of Lincoln, T.R. and Eisenhower? This is not my father's Republican party."

This isn't a terrible group once you take out Palin. Heck, even Palin wouldn't have been terrible a year ago. The thing is that it seems that you've really got to sell out big time to get through the primary season.

But its not like we can have an Obama every election. He's a once in a generation guy.

Posted by: DDAWD | April 9, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't the GOP candidate that ran on a rabid fiscal conservative policy yield 48% of the vote against a superstar opponent with record fundraising?

Governor Sanford has staked out a position independent of the establishment class. That's a good position to place yourself when your already maxed out on your state office ambitions.

Posted by: snannerb | April 9, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

It's easy to threaten people's unemployment checks when you've never lived on the other side of privilege, isn't it?

In a state so poor that its teachers are being imported from India, it seems preposterous that this governor is not acting for the people in it. Isn't he supposed to represent South Carolinian interests? Sanford - do your job.

Posted by: gmcfar | April 9, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I understand you have to write about this guy, but seriously Mr. Fix, what are the chances that any Deep South Republican can put together a majority in the electoral college? Ain't gonna happen in 2012 or anytime soon.

Posted by: j-willie | April 9, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Sanford must be feeling the heat. He's not going on the offense. He's trying to save his rear amongst the SC voters.

Posted by: Continuum | April 9, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

and king, what are those consequences? Enemies have been building nukes for decades(USSR,China, Pakistan),scraping to despots? isn't that what Reagan did to Hussein in the '80s back when you probably didn't care a whit about the Iraqis...Didn't bash America - Bashed the ignorance and arrogance of the last 8 years of Bush/Cheney...you know you really shouldn't criticize the President of the U.S. during wartime - it's unpatriotic and Un-American....

Posted by: teammugs | April 9, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised that the underlying reason for Gov. Sanford's refusing some stimulus money is not mentioned here. He is willing to refuse the money because it will mostly benefit minorities. Thus Gov. Sanford can hurt people who will never support him while scoring points with reactionary backers. It's a twofer.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | April 9, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Sanford, Palin, Perry, Jindal---is this the best that the GOP can do? There was a time when the GOP had a large and vibrant progressive wing. What happened to the party of Lincoln, T.R. and Eisenhower? This is not my father's Republican party.

Posted by: mlipsius | April 9, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised no one is commenting on the underlying basis for Gov. Sanford's position. The people who would benefit most from this money are minorities, and therefore not of concern to Sanford, except as scapegoats.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | April 9, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised no one is commenting on the underlying basis for Gov. Sanford's position. The people who would benefit most from this money are minorities, and therefore not of concern to Sanford, except as scapegoats.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | April 9, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

CAROLINA MOONED; SUNSET FOR SANFORD?

Americans don't love bailouts, but they do
like getting their fair share of the pie --
South Carolinians included.


Sanford's handling of this issue would
appear to make any future presidential run D.O.A.'

****

An Open Letter to Markos, a/k/a "KOS" @ DailyKos.com

(KOSSAKS, please forward)


Dear Sir or Madam:


My commentary about my first-hand experiences with apparent "fusion center" internet interference and censorship...


http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/4/9/718146/-Govt-Fusion-Center-Spying:-Pretext-to-Harass-and-Censor


... complaints documented with a litany of examples published at ...


http://blog.aclu.org/2009/01/26/internet-filters-voluntary-ok-not-government-mandate/#comments


...apparently has resulted in my being banned, according to an email from Kos tech "Ed."


No specific reason was given, only the suggestion that I write to appeal this seemingly incongruous decision.


I've been a mainstream journalist for more than 30 years. The commentary was labeled as such. It was based solely upon my personal experiences, not upon the word of others.


I cannot fathom how this commentary -- which dovetails with many other accounts of alleged abuses of the government's warrantless surveillance program -- could result in a banishment from posting at DailyKos... assuming my email from "Ed" was legitimate.


Would you please call this matter to Markos' attention for reconsideration? I would hate to think that DailyKos would succumb to the pressure of would-be censors.


I have reason to believe that such pressure was brought to bear in this case -- perhaps by way of paid disinformation agents who double as DailyKos "regulars."


One of them actually threatened an action against my thread in a post to my latest article.


To quote from "Liberalis," the author of the most recent post in the thread (4/9/09 @ 9:52:05 AM PDT):


"Nice little 'thread' ya got here. It'd be a shame if something 'happened' to it."


I value your web site and do hope I can continue to contribute, and feel good about, DailyKos.com. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.


Thank you.


"Scrivener"


***


Fixistas, I have heard about so-called "fake alternative media sites" that actually serve as lures for over-reaching government agents hunting for new prey. I didn't think DailyKos was one of them.


Now, I'm wondering....

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 9, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

the VAST majority.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | April 9, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Chris - this Sanford guy is good - because in one interview he convinced you that this five-alarm effort at damage control amounts to "going on offense" and "picking this fight."

He rolled you like a drunk in an alley, pal.

This Sanford reminds me of another Sanford - Fred. He was a junk salesman, too.

Posted by: achilli | April 9, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Mark Sanford embodies the politics of meanness. If he runs in 2012, his opponents in the middle and left (who comprise the cast majority of Americans) won't let the public forget about this.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | April 9, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

finally a conservative who stands for something! I really admire him for sticking to his principles

Posted by: dee150586 | April 9, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

enemy missiles headed our way. Enemy building nukes. Enemy kidnapping our guys.

Obama bows and scrapes to despots. Cancels missile defense. Begs foregiveness. Bashes America. Offers to surrender. Too busy repairing broken telephonpter and picking out dog to react properly. But there will be serious consequences.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 9, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

"Sanford is preparing to run for president in 2012. And, like him or hate him, he has staked out some solid ground among the most rabid of fiscal conservatives by picking this fight."


Governor Sanford might want to rethink his strategy. Rabid fiscal conservatives might help him win the nomination, but it is the pragmatic moderates who decide elections. We're looking for people who solve problems rather than promoting ideology.

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 9, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

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