Congressional candidate and former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) held a mock debate with a cardboard cutout of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Wednesday morning, on a sidewalk outside Medical University of South Carolina. Sanford said the Pelosi cutout was a stand-in for his opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, because she is avoiding public appearances.
"My opponent continues to run a stealth campaign, avoiding public appearances and refusing to commit to televised forums for the benefit of 1st district voters," Sanford said in a press release. "Since Elizabeth Colbert Busch refuses to articulate her views publicly, we are left to draw inferences for what she stands for on the basis of the groups that have made substantial monetary investments on her behalf."
The two will meet Monday for a debate at The Citadel ahead of the May 7 special election for the U.S. House seat. Colbert Busch declined to debate at Medical University, citing a "tight schedule," and her campaign slammed Sanford's "debate."
"While Mark Sanford continues his desperate campaign to deceive voters, Elizabeth Colbert Busch is spending her time with real people who support her campaign," spokesman James Smith said Wednesday in a statement sent to media. "Today alone, she’s meeting with a group of Republicans for Elizabeth Colbert Busch and a rally at Burke High School. She doesn’t have to resort to phony cardboard cutouts to talk with the people of South Carolina."
Sanford's "debate" was reminiscent of Clint Eastwood's 2012 Republican National Convention speech to an empty chair representing President Barack Obama, and it marked another bizarre turn for the former governor, who is trying to come back after admitting to a 2009 extramarital affair to Argentinian Maria Chapur.
Sanford's ex-wife has accused him of trespassing on her property, in violation of their divorce agreement. On Tuesday, Sanford said he had gone to his ex-wife's house to watch the Super Bowl with one son while the other was also home doing homework. He previously said that he went to his ex-wife's house on Feb. 3, because he "didn’t think he should watch [the Super Bowl] alone."
On Sunday, Sanford ran a 1,200-word ad in the Charleston Post & Courier lamenting his "rough week," comparing his campaign to the Alamo and giving out his personal cell phone number.
Voters in South Carolina's 1st District, which went for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney by 18 percentage points in 2012, seem to be losing faith in Sanford. Colbert Busch has a 9-point lead among likely voters, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released Monday. The National Republican Congressional Committee is not spending money on the race.
UPDATE: 5:45 p.m. -- Rep. Pelosi's office responded to the "debate" between Mark Sanford and a cardboard picture of the House minority leader. "The only people who took this seriously were the people at Kinko's," said Pelosi press secretary Evangeline George.
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As South Carolina governor in 2009, Sanford admitted that he was having an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman and lied about his whereabouts, the Associated Press <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130410/us-anthony-weiner-mayoral-run-glance/" target="_blank">reported</a>. He recently won a GOP runoff for the congressional seat in South Carolina's 1st district and is engaged to his mistress, Maria Belen Chapur.
Virginia Democrat Chuck Robb took another shot at the U.S. Senate in 1994, years after admitting to a secret history of partying and sexual encounters, according to the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1994/03/14/us/after-six-years-of-scandal-senator-seeks-redemption.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a>. He won his bid for a second term.
The Democrat resigned as governor of New York in 2008 in a call-girl scandal and has since worked as a commentator for CNN and other media organizations, the Associated Press <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130410/us-anthony-weiner-mayoral-run-glance/" target="_blank">reported</a>.
Former GOP Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/11/newts-women-newt-gingrich_n_860341.html#s277211&title=19621980" target="_blank">history of marriages, divorces and affairs</a> reemerged in the spotlight while making an unsuccessful bid for the White House in 2012.
Massachusetts Democratic congressman Barney Frank's career was almost derailed in 1989 after he admitted to a relationship with a male prostitute, but went on to serve for two more decades before retiring, the Associated Press <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130410/us-anthony-weiner-mayoral-run-glance/" target="_blank">reported</a>.
He won a second term as a Republican senator from Louisiana in 2010, three years after he was identified as a client of a prostitution service in what was dubbed the "DC Madam" scandal, the Associated Press <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130410/us-anthony-weiner-mayoral-run-glance/" target="_blank">reported</a>.
Former President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House in 1998 but acquitted by the Senate over his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, the Associated Press <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130410/us-anthony-weiner-mayoral-run-glance/" target="_blank">reported</a>.
Massachusetts Democrat Edward "Ted" Kennedy was serving in the Senate in 1969, when he <a href="http://www.upi.com/Audio/Year_in_Review/Events-of-1969/Chappaquiddick/12303189849225-7/" target="_blank">was involved in</a> a post-party car accident that resulted in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Kennedy pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, and while the incident was thought to have damaged his presidential prospects, he ultimately served in the Senate until 2009, when he died of brain cancer.
The California Republican was serving his first year in Congress in 1993 when he was <a href="http://www.croftononline.com/calvert.JPG" target="_blank">busted by police</a> while engaged in sexual conduct with a prostitute. The incident didn't slow down his political career, as Calvert is still serving on Capitol Hill.