Now that he has taken the oath of office for his second stint in the House of Representatives, Mark Sanford has revealed to Newsmax that the causes of lower spending and smaller government on which he first won election to Congress in 1994 are "more timely than ever" now.
"The agenda of lower spending, smaller government and greater freedom were what fueled my interest in politics and what fueled the '94 election," said Sanford, recalling how Republicans campaigned on those issues and took control of both houses of Congress that year for the first time in four decades.
The man who went on to become South Carolina governor said, "While we are in a different time 18 years later, I would argue that the battle lines are delineated much clearer between Republicans in Congress opposing President Obama than they were opposing President Clinton."
"Look, when Admiral Mike Mullen was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he was asked what the greatest threat to national security is. Instead of saying 'China,' he replied: 'the national debt.' That should tell you something about the situation we're in," Sanford said.
Sanford believes that he and his fellow Republicans in the House majority "can put political pressure on the executive branch on the spending issue."
"Certainly, the way [House Republicans] have held the line on no more taxes is an example of that. But there has to be a whole new educational component in terms of cuts in spending and what to roll back. There's a whole host of points that Republican members need to make daily and do so in a lively way. That's what I'm going to be working on," Sanford said.
Turning to his Lazarus-like political comeback following his 2009 admission of an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman, Sanford said: "We were heavily outspent and my opponent [Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch] tried to keep the campaign on me and my personal situation. We were able to flip it to a discussion of important national issues and the differences between us, and that was key."
Those issues, Sanford said, "were the debt ceiling, which she would have voted to lift and I would not; Obamacare, a real litmus test and something she supported and I want to keep from being implemented; funding for earmarks, which she supported and I opposed; and government spending."
The race was, in Sanford's words, a "tug of war for five months."
Three weeks before the vote, following the story about Sanford's former wife Jenny charging him with trespassing on her property to see one of his sons, Colbert Busch had the advantage, he said.
But, "in the last two weeks of the race, when we were being outgunned on television ads by about 2-to-1, we managed to keep the campaign focused on those bread-and-butter conservative issues."
He also pointed out that the Democrat's refusal to agree to more than one debate led to his now-celebrated "debate" with a cardboard cutout of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi "and that really helped."
The new congressman took exception to published reports that House Republican leaders were going to assign him to low-profile committees because of the furor surrounding his extramarital affair and divorce, which resurfaced during the campaign for his May 7 special election.
"As for committee assignments, it's premature to have that conversation now," Sanford said. "I haven't discussed that with the speaker or other House leaders yet but, as soon as I do, I will have a clearer picture."
He did note that anyone who wins a special election to the House "has some complications of stepping into major committee assignments because most of the cake has already been served."
Sanford discussed being a veteran of the House GOP's "Class of '94" and returning to the House 13 years after he stepped down. Referring to two other members of that class, Republican Reps. Matt Salmon of Arizona and Steve Stockman of Texas, who won election to Congress last year after many years out of office, Sanford said: "That's right -- there's three of us and all of us are battle-tested."
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