msnbc | February 24, 2013
>>> politics, power and pop culture all at play in the palmetto state. the former south carolina governor who tearfully resigned as head of the republican governor's association because of the extramarital affair is staging quite the political comeback. he is the front runner in a special election for his old house seat. democrat elizabeth bush sister of comedian steven kolbert, one of the only two democrats vying for that open seat . joining me now in the war room , jamie harrison, vice chair of the south carolina democratic party and presumed next chairman. and katen dawson. good to see you guys sitting next to each other. that's nice.
>> jamie and i are great friends. we just don't get along on policy.
>> it works out for everyone. mark sanford became a bit of a punch line when he left office and his family for the secret south american girlfriends. how many south carolina voters still associate him with that period?
>> almost everymean, basically the republicans are giving us a big gift here. it's reminding us of the two big letters, "i" and "c" which defines republican leadership, ineffective and at sometimes corrupt. we're happy to see marc sanford back. the republicans are using him as a punching bag right now, and if he's lucky enough to be the nominee, elizabeth will use him as a punching bag later on in may.
>> his first campaign ad is pretty interesting. i'm sure you've seen it. i'm sure you want to play a snippet of it for the viewers. it's all about forgiveness. take a listen.
>> i've experienced how none of us go through life without mistakes but in their wake we can learn a lot 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 .
>> how effective of an ad is that?
>> if mark can keep the narrative there on forgiveness and his record in congress and record as a governor with all due respect to jamie , he had a good conservative record, was a -- before the failures was a national figure, and one thing you never can count a guy like mark sanford out is electoral politics . he knows how to do it. he's professional and knows how to raise money , and right now he's in first place and will be the punching bag for 15 others. that doesn't mean he's going to win the runoff, but he's going to be in it, but what i can guarantee you whoever wins that primary will be the next congressman from south carolina . look at the district, where it is, it's charleston and dorchester county , berkeley county and buford, and we've never lost any of those three counties in modern history .
>> jamie , what say you to that because it's no secret democrat have had a rough go at it in the palmetto state for some time. in fact, next to utah south carolina is the most republican state in the country.
>> well, listen, craig, you know. there's going to be a sea change in south carolina , and it's going to start and take place down in the low country in this congressional district . i mean, it's amazing to me that for a party that hates the federal government so much that you've got 16 people climbing all over each other to go to washington , and listen, we're going to send somebody up there who is going -- who is willing to compromise and willing to put south carolina first, and that's elizabeth colbert busch .
>> let's talk about her. i'm glad you brought her up. of course, elizabeth colbert busch , famous brother who pronounces his name very differently, by the way. let's hear what he said rise entally about his sister.
>> holy cow . my sister is running for congress. as a broadcast journalist i am obligated to main pure octoberivity. it doesn't matter that my sister is intelligent, hard working , compassionate and dedicated to the people of south carolina .
>> jamie , what are people saying about elizabeth colbert busch on the ground there?
>> listen, she's new to politics, but, craig, she's a natural. people just really, really love her, and the energy that she's bringing out on the campaign trail is amazing, and she has a business background. for, you know, for years she's been doing business development, either in the maritime industry or for clemson university . we're very, very proud of her, and she will be the typical type of candidate that you'll see from the south carolina democratic party in the months to come.
>> if it's -- if it's mark sanford versus elizabeth colbert busch down there, what kind of a race are we looking at in.
>> it's going to be a special election . the democrats in modern history , contrary to jamie , have not won a special election of this magnitude that i can remember in modern history . they are associated with the liberal party , associated with the liberal president, associated with things and values that just don't match up, especially with the first district in south carolina , but it will be a race. it will be expensive. no matter which one wins, whether it's mark sanford or not, i would tell you in that in district, very, very high hill to climb, even with stephen colbert and his sister and the money they will be able to raise from the liberal establishment all over the country, it will be tough. i don't see any success from the democrats yet. as the former chairman said, turning a super tanker around is pretty you have to, and in south carolina republicans and the responsible policies we've done, great governor, tim scott u.s. senator , lindsey graham u.s. senator , pretty tough ship to turn around for the democrats.
>> i want to shift gears, not a lot of time, but i want to get your take on the sequester. front page of the paper of record there in the palmetto state, front page of the state newspaper, story of looming military cuts and a big pullout quote that says "it scares me to death." how hard will south carolina be hit if the sequester goes through, jamie ?
>> south carolina will be one of the hardest hit states in the country. you know, 7.4% of our gdp is tied into the federal government , from if the contracting or federal spending, and so, again, i go back to -- for a state that's run by republicans that tend to hate the federal government , i tell you, the federal government sure is signing a lot of paychecks for a lot of good hard working folks here in south carolina , and so sequester would be devastating, for not only poor people but for the military. and so we -- we need to turn this around, and we need some people that we send to congress who will say yes to things instead of no all the time.
>> i do want to pick up where jamie left off a little while ago. if -- if republicans in south carolina and they more so than a lot of their ilk throughout the rest of the country, if they believe in small government so much, why are there so many clamoring for that spot?
>> well, you know, being a congressman is public service at its height, and to have 16 people wanting to be a congressman is pretty impressive. certainly it was tim scott 's old seat. mark sanford 's old district is not exactly that district either. it's been redrawn and it's sort of a new district that tim scott just won. back to what jamie said. we don't have a money problem in washington . we have a spending problem in washington , and still would contend that sequester is on its way. we'll start tightening the belt of the federal government . it's gotten too big, too intrusive and --
>> is this a way to make it smaller? is 85 billion across the top indiscriminate, is that the way to shrink government?
>> that's a good start, a really good start. and the deal was cut by the president and his men at first so we dealt with the taxes and now -- and now the chickens are coming home to roost.
>> we'll have to leave it there. wish we had more time. thank you both. demonstrating how folks who don't necessarily have the same opinion can sit right next to each other and share some space and some water and some good times. thank you so much, guys.