Sanford, Colbert Busch debate for first time - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Sanford, Colbert Busch debate for first time

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP/WCIV) - Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, after sparring from a distance for weeks, finally face off Monday in the pitched race for the state's vacant 1st Congressional District seat.

The two meet Monday evening at The Citadel in a debate sponsored by the Patch news service, the South Carolina Radio Network and WCBD. The debate is being cablecast by C-SPAN.

It's their first joint appearance in the campaign that started earlier when incumbent congressman Tim Scott was appointed to the state's vacant U.S. Senate seat.

Sanford's public career was sidelined in 2009 after he revealed he had an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman to whom he is now engaged. For weeks now, Sanford has been trying to make a political comeback, hammering Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, for not debating more.

Sanford has accused her of running what he called a stealth campaign, fueled by out-of-state money and that the voters don't know where she stands on the issues.

"In the absence of everything else this (debate) takes on added significance because she hasn't debated," Sanford said.

Colbert Busch's campaign has responded that she has been busy with her own aggressive campaign schedule.

"I'm really looking forward to this debate," Colbert Busch said Friday. "I think what you will see when Mark and I are standing on the same stage is you will see an enormous difference between the two of us and you will see an enormous difference between the two campaigns. I'm really looking forward to it."

But she said she didn't think the campaign turns on the debate.

"I think people understand our campaign and what our campaign is doing resonates throughout the district," she added.

When asked why Green Party candidate Eugene Platt wasn't invited, organizers gave the following response.

"Following guidelines set forth by the Commission on Presidential Debates, we invited the two candidates who are polling at 15 percent or greater. It was not an attempt to exclude any candidates or parties from the event."

Sanford, Colbert Busch, and Platt compete May 7 in a special election in the district that runs from northeast of Charleston south to the resort of Hilton Head Island.

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