South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford Weighs In On This 'Crazy Election'

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South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford became a member of Congress in 2013, he was governor of South Carolina from 2003 to 2011. (Dean Russell/Here & Now)
South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford became a member of Congress in 2013, he was governor of South Carolina from 2003 to 2011. (Dean Russell/Here & Now)

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida may be racking up the endorsements from some of South Carolina’s most powerful politicians, including Sen. Tim Scott and Gov. Nikki Haley, but the presidential contender is still trailing both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Today, U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), the former South Carolina governor, endorsed Cruz. Sanford spoke with with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson on Wednesday about where he sees this election going. Asked then if he would be endorsing a candidate, he said he would be unlikely to endorse anyone, because "endorsements don't matter."

Sanford also gave a personal account of how his political ambitions have been tempered in the years following his widely-reported affair in 2009 that unfolded on a national stage.

Note: This story first aired at 12:20 p.m. Eastern, before Rep. Mark Sanford endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz. This story and the audio above have been updated to reflect the endorsement.

Interview Highlights: U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford

Why is Donald Trump doing so well in South Carolina?

"I can’t figure it out. Other than to say that people’s frustrations with Washington and how it doesn’t work for them, combined with genuine economic angst, is really boiling hard and you put those things together and you have this wave of economic populism that I think is the jet fuel behind the Trump campaign on the right, and frankly the Bernie Sanders campaign on the left. That’s been boiling at a low grade, its boiling over right now. And you combine that with an already sour mood in Washington and you get this crazy election that we have coming at us right now."

The reason a lot of people know you is because of this extramarital affair back in 2009 when you were governor. You left the governor’s office but then you came back into public office. You’re now a congressman here. What did that do to your aspirations? What do you want to do next?

“I think it’s humanized me to a great degree. I think that failure, particularly public failure is embarrassing, it’s unsettling. There’s a lot of remorse. But isn’t that the glue that kind of holds us all together? I don’t know, the reality is there’s probably something in your past you’re ashamed of. I had to be out there on the public stage and that’s something that forever tempers you. It makes you think about your own frailties as a human being. It makes you much less judgmental of others. It makes you appreciate grace and friendship, love and kindness maybe to a level you didn’t have before. Again, you can’t undo the past but what you can do is learn from it moving forward and that’s what I try to do every single day.”

Has that experience changed your political views at all?

“No, I’ve always been conservative. I believe that government in final form isn’t the answer. I believe that wherever possible, we ought to put decision making down to the most local level possible in terms of government. But ultimately, the most local level possible is with the individual and we ought to maximize the sphere of individual independence and human freedom which is I think the construct that the founding fathers had in mind when they put together the country and drew up the constitution.”

Have your views on social issues changed?

“You don’t hear me talking a lot about social issues. What you hear me talking about is this amazingly devastating financial wave that will come our way really within a 10 year window if we don’t get our financial house in order.”

Will you ever run for president?

“I cooked that goose way back in 2009.”

But you came back to be a congressman

“Yeah, and it’s an amazing blessing. I was scared to death when folks brought it up first. Because I had left the governorship, I finished my second term but then I went into something of a very quiet period of life. You do a lot more soul searching on the way down than on the way up. But when this seat was open, folks began calling and initially I was like, ‘No way, I’ve been through the fire, I’m not reopening those wounds.’ But they kept calling and here we are. But that’s part of a hometown phenomenon. People here have known me all my life and they say we are not going to measure you on your best day, nor are we going to measure you on your worst day. That’s a very different thing than running for president. So thanks for the kind words but like I said, I cooked that goose a while back. But I’m blessed to be back in Congress and trying to make a difference when I can.”


This segment aired on February 19, 2016.


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