Morning Joe | March 19, 2013
>>> i've cut spending, reduced debt and made government more accountable. more recently, i've experienced how none of us go through life without mistakes. but in their wake, we can learn about grace, a god of second chances and be the better for it. in that light, i humbly step forward and ask for your help in changing washington.
>>> i'm sorry for all the mistakes i've made. sugar, just give me one more chance.
>> break up with career politicians, the right guy, teddy turner , conservative republican , economics teacher, not politician.
>> wow. today's primary day in south carolina where 18 republican candidates --
>> that's a lot. including governor mark sanford are competing for the see vacated by now senator tim scott . a lot of different types of candidates.
>> a lot of types of candidates, but mark sanford doing very well. he's, i think, most political observers say he's going to win the primary and then he'll go into a runoff.
>> ill tell you what, you know, there's so much talk about the personal stuff and that guy lashing out. i think that was ted turner 's son. but if you think about what washington needs right now and you look at his record, it's -- i don't know.
>> i tell you what, mark sanford on the issues --
>> on the issues.
>> a man in his time.
>> he has spent --
>> i guess that's what i was trying to say.
>> he's spent his entire adult life focused on the things we're actually talking about right now when it comes to the debt and the deficit. and he's going to be the punch line of a lot of jokes. and a lot of people that -- a lot of people going to make fun of him. but mark haleprin, in these congressional races, especially in primaries, you win it person to person, handshake to handshake and everything i've heard out of south carolina is is -- and i've heard a lot out of south carolina from a lot of friends down there is that this guy is doing all the right things. he's contrite, and voters like him.
>> the reason he was talked about as a presidential candidate not that long ago, he's great on policy and he's great at grass roots politicking. runoffs are always a little bit tricky and potentially combustible. he'll make the runoff. question is who he'll run against. given the district, his strength, how hard he's worked, likely to become a congressman.
>> i agree with mark, i believe in second chances in life and redemption and he's getting one and he seems to be making the best of it.
>> he certainly is.
>>> here with us from charleston, south carolina , she's covering the story, nbc news capitol hill correspondent kelly o'donnell. what are you hearing on the ground there?
>> reporter: well, we've spent some time, mika, joe, and everybody talking with voters and out with the candidates. it is 16 republicans, two democrats in the race. it is a lot of candidates. and voters we've talked to said they've been bowled over by the number of ads. and being here for a few days now, every local spot available on tv has been a campaign ad . something they didn't live through during the presidential season because south carolina wasn't in play. i spent a lot of time going campaign event to campaign event with mark sanford and i have been struck by the warm reception of people meeting him. he talked to us at great length about his own apprehension of putting his name in the ring and having to go out and meet people face-to-face. dropped out of life for about a year after the affair that led to his public embarrassment and all of the problems at the end of his term as governor. and he really says he has changed a lot and has been struck by people who meet him talk about some of their own life experiences. so he says he's connecting with voters in a way that he had never done before when he was all about sort of being a fiscal conservative and a numbers guy . now, some of the other candidates say they have been serving in local office, haven't had any scandal. they have been honorable public servants , and it should be their turn. and we also spent time with elizabeth colbert who is the sister of stephen colbert , and she's a businesswoman who's been in this community for a long time. she's likely, people here say, to get the democratic nomination. and so it would be whoever this republican is against colbert/bush, presumably. with 16 republicans, not likely anyone would get above 50%. the big question is sanford and who? and it's a crowded field, but it's been fascinating to get to know these candidates, an interesting race to watch.
>> it is. kelly o'donnell live from charleston, south carolina , thank you so much.