Tuesday, April 30, 2013
The host of Monday's First Congressional District Debate promised questions on the issues, not personalities, but that didn't stop the candidates themselves from launching personal attacks at every opportunity.
Former Gov. Mark Sanford repeatedly invoked the bogeyman of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi controlling Elizabeth Colbert Busch's vote, but Colbert Busch responded that “nobody tells me what to do.”
Meanwhile, Colbert Busch threw back Sanford's claim of saving taxpayer money by retorting that he used the savings to fund personal trips overseas.
Colbert Busch said Sanford voted against deepening the port and funding the Ravenel Bridge while in Congress, but Sanford said Colbert Busch couldn't have been that upset as she later gave him a $500 campaign contribution.
“I guess it didn't bother her that much,” he said.
Colbert Busch said she met with Sanford several times in connection with her job and he promised to support deepening.
“You didn't tell the truth,” she said.
“In the wake of that, if it really bothered you, why would you write a campaign check?” Sanford countered.
In any event, he said, he was voting against the method of funding, not the projects themselves.
“I was against earmarks before being against earmarks was cool,” he said.
In addition to personal digs, the candidates talked about their positions on jobs, immigration, health care, and same-sex marriage.
The debate was the only one of the abbreviated special election campaign. Online news outlet Patch sponsored the debate, and Shawn Drury, Patch S.C. political editor, Ashley Byrd, S.C. Radio Network news director, and Brendan Clark, WCBD-TV news anchor asked questions. The candidates were asked to begin by outlining their greatest accomplishments.
Colbert Busch recalled starting in business 27 years ago as a single mother to three children, making $6 per hour.
She knew that wasn't enough to build a better life, she said, so she went back to school and finished her education. She started work in the maritime industry, she said, starting as a clerk and working her way up to director of sales and marketing, where she was responsible for 20 percent of North American sales and revenue.
Sanford said he has a 20-year track record fighting government spending. He was part of the Congressional freshman class of 1994 that helped push for a balanced budget and the National Taxpayers Union named him No. 1 in Congress for limiting spending, he said.
During his time as governor, the state saw $24 billion in cumulative investment, he said.
Government helps create the underlying conditions that encourage investment, he said, pointing to the marginal rate tax cut, workers compensation reform and other reforms during his time as governor.
Colbert Busch also said government creates the conditions and infrastructure to help businesses, but “jobs are made by private companies and small business.”
On immigration, Sanford said he wouldn't support the Sen. Lindsey Graham proposal.
Allowing a path to citizenship didn't work in the 1980s because the enforcement piece didn't follow, and now there are millions more illegal immigrants than there were then, he said.
Enforcement must come first, he said.
Colbert Busch said she supports the Chamber of Commerce position – those here need to pay taxes and fines, learn English and go to the back of the line for citizenship, she said.
But, she said, “we can't afford to send 11 million people back home.”
Both candidates found problems with the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare.
Sanford said he wouldn't have voted for the bill and would vote to defund it if he returned to Congress.
The act adds $6.2 trillion to the national debt, he said, and subverts American tradition by for the first time telling Americans what to buy.
Colbert Busch said the health care act is “extremely problematic” because of the costs. Unlike Sanford, she found good points in it, such as prohibiting denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parent's insurance until age 26.
On the question of same-sex marriage, Colbert Busch said she supports full equality, while Sanford said he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, an act since disavowed by President Bill Clinton, who signed it into law.
However, Sanford said the way the issue is playing out now, on a state-by-state basis, is consistent with federalism and with states making laws for marriage.