Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican, dismissed controversy on Saturday over the president's comments that people should vote for "revenge," saying the statement seemed reasonable and that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney should leave it alone.
"I don't think Obama's comments were unreasonable when he said, 'Don't boo, vote, you know, voting is the best revenge,'" Sanford told Fox News' Gregg Jarrett. "Because I think if you look at this whole notion why people vote, well, they don't vote for the idea of country generally, they vote for specifics they believe in."
Obama told supporters on Friday that they shouldn't boo at the mention of Romney, they should get out and vote. "Voting is the best revenge," he said in Springfield, Ohio.
Romney quickly made the statement a line in his stump speech, saying at three rallies since that Obama "asked his supporters to vote for revenge" and that he asks "the American people to vote for love of country."
Sanford said Romney shouldn't be talking about Obama's comment at all, but instead should be spending the time addressing other issues.
"I just think, again, this is much ado about nothing, and he would do a lot better focusing on economy and jobs," he said.
Sanford said the hubbub over "revenge" is in part based on the press corps, which he noted have watched both candidates' stump speeches countless times, looking "for any slight twinge or difference" to report on. But mostly, Sanford said the issue was part of the "incredible partisan nature of the final days of any campaign, when you mention the guy's name and the crowd starts booing."
"It's sort of the theatrics of politics," he said later. "And you have this back-and-forth, it turns a lot of people off."
When Jarrett brought the conversation to the economy, Sanford took the opportunity to reiterate that he thinks Romney should drop the "revenge" outrage.
"So again I say, the revenge thing, it's a sidetrack," he said. "Forget it, and move back to what people are really focused on, which is again jobs, economy, debt, deficit, those kinds of things."
Jarrett replied, with a laugh, that he was a convert to Sanford's view.
"You convinced me," he said. "I'm over it. I'm over the revenge thing."
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