My Interview With Governor Mark Sanford

At the California State Republican Party Convention in Sacramento, I and a few others had the pleasure of asking questions of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.

Governor Sanford was one of the shining stars of the convention weekend. While his manner is calm, quiet, and understated, his significance to the Republican Party cannot be overstated.

Despite being the keynote speaker at a dinner that went past 10pm at night, he still managed to find time for a 45 minute question and answer session that went past 11pm.

The event was put together by Josh Trevino. In addition to Josh and myself, others in the room included U.S. Senate Candidate Chuck DeVore and Claremont Institute Fellow Larry Greenfield.

Chuck DeVore got the ball rolling by asking Governor Sanford to discuss what he thinks the main recent GOP failings have been.

MS: “I will leave the specifics to the historians. In simple terms, the GOP lost its way. We have to get back to basics. If the choice becomes the growth of government or the growth of liberty, we have to choose liberty.

So where do we go from here?

A political party is a brand. One way to fix the brand is for Republicans to ‘do what you say you will do.’ We have to go back to what made our party great. We stand for less government and more freedom.”

Governor Sanford was then asked about card check legislation. Throughout the evening, his calm manner belied fierce conviction. Card check legislation was no exception.

MS: “I will support any legislation that is against card heck. Card check violates competitveness. Do you remember the 1920s Wagner Act? Card check is as bad as the Wagner Act.”

While several people in the room had questions on foreign policy, Governor Sanford let us know what his priorities were.

MS: “Foreign policy is a fluid situation. It is constantly changing. Governors that spend their time worrying about foreign policy are worrying about the wrong things. Governors have to run their state, which means taking care of their state economy and growing state jobs. I deal with foreign policy only as it relates to trade.”

Josh Trevino asked Governor Sanford to touch upon illegal immigration.

MS: “As Governor, we passed a stiff bill. We are a nation of laws, not men. We cannot wink and nond and simply look the other way. We have to be uniform in how this is dealt with.”

I asked him about Israel, and if he had any concerns regarding the new administration.

MS: “I believe in the Teddy Roosevelt model. We must walk softly, but carry a big stick. Also, we have to stick by our allies. Israel is our ally. However, I will reserve commenty on the new administration. It has only been 30 days.”

The Governor was asked if he felt that the President’s fear mongering over the stimulus law was bad for the country.

MS: “Fear mongering over any legislation is not good. Fear mongering leads to not great decisions.”

Another illegal immigration question dealt with how to regain support among Hispanics, which topped 40% under President Bush but cratered in 2008.

MS: “Legal immigrants want their rights protected. We as Republicans have to translate that in a tone that does not single people out.”

One questioner wanted to know if Governor Sanford felt that the current stimulus law was a wake up call to America to get away from socialism.

MS: “Ironically enough, these tough times have actually gotten Americans to the point where we have a positive savings rate. Yet instead of accepting a positive savings rate, we are being told to spend.

The economic challenge is a wake up call. The question will be, is who gets their message out louder?

I believe this stimulus package was a mistake politically. Enough people may not feel that it helps.”

One of the attendees pointed out that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was refusing the stimulus money. They wanted to know if Governor Sanford would do likewise.

MS: “I am not sure she is refusing all of it. I think she is refusing some of it. Several Governors including me have discussed refusing some of the money, but I do not think any of us will refuse all of it. Also, Governor Palin has oil revenues. South Carolina doesn’t get that.”

I then asked Governor Sanford what he thought the Bush legacy would be.

MS: “His main legacy will be that since 9/11, we have gone eight years without being attacked. Additionally, with the exception of the steel tariffs, his commitment to global free trade is another legacy. Supporting open trade is like pushing a rock uphill these days.”

The Governor was asked what his main priorities were regarding small businesses.

MS: “I am responsible for keeping small businesses in South Carolina. I view our state as a country. I have to run it in a way that makes businesses want to do business here. You in California can do that. Yet California is tyring to raise taxes during tough economic times. In South Carolina, we cut the state income tax for small businesses. There used to be a bifurcated rate where big businesses paid 5% and small businesses paid 7%. We eliminated that disparity. Now, all businesses pay the same lower rate. As I said, we have to run the state like a country because trade is global. We in SOuth Carolina are competing against Latvia, Estonia, India, and China.”

Josh Trevino asked Governor Sanford about burdensome and excessive environmental regulations.

MS: “We love the planet too in South Carolina. We’re just not as ‘Californian.’ I’m a Teddy Roosevelt conservative. We have to take care of our financial resources and our natural resources. Not all rules should be based on raw science. This places unfair burdens on businesses, which hurts everybody. Balance is doable. Remember, it was Florida Governor Jeb Bush that protected the Everglades.”

I then decided to lighten the mood.

“Governor, I have a softball. First of all, (University of South Carolina) Gamecocks or (Clemson) Tigers? Secondly, has (Carolina Panthers quarterback, who had six turnovers in a 2009 playoff loss) Jake Delhomme written you a letter of apology yet for that loss against the Arizona Cardinals?”

Governor Sanford was good-natured in his response.

MS: “You said you were asking a softball question. That’s not a softball.


As for choosing between the Gamecocks and Tigers, I support all of the South Carolina schools. The voters are very passionate about both sides, and that is my stand. As for Jake Delhomme, my sons were heartbroken over that came. Both of my boys felt that this was the year for the Panthers. The team looked like a Super Bowl contenders. They kept telling me they were going to win it all. So as for that Cardinals game, it hurt both of my boys. They were crushed. It was a tough loss.”

The final question of Governor Sanford was what he expected his own legacy to be. As lighthearted as the mood was, the Governor’s answer was very sobering and serious.

MS: “My father was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease when I was in high school. He lived another six years. he was only given six months. It was a real homestyle funeral. We built his coffin, and buried him under oak trees. I take things day by day. So as for my legacy, I honestly don’t have a clue.”

I would like to thank Governor Sanford for being very generous with his time and very sincere in spirit. The people of South Carolina are fortunate to have him. The people of California could learn from him.

After the room cleared out, I asked the Governor if he had any plans to surpass Strom Thurmond for the South Carolina longevity record in politics. Governor Sanford was matter of fact about it.

MS: “It ain’t gonna happen.”

Meeting and interviewing Governor Sanford is yet another example that when escaping the coasts of New York and California, there is much common sense to be found. Yes, every state is different, and yes, South Carolina is a much smaller state than California. That does not change the fact that the states face many similar problems. From taxes to immigration to other issues, California is dysfunctional and South Carolina is functional.

Of course we should listen to what Governor Mark Sanford has to say.

The bottom line is not what feels good, but what works.

South Carolina works. This is in no small part due to the fact that it is well governed.


10 Responses to “My Interview With Governor Mark Sanford”

  1. Dav Lev says:

    Just a few salient facts to begin with: So. Carolina’s per capita income
    is less than one-half that of your average Californian.

    South Carolina’s gov is not accepting over 2 billion from the Stimulua package, much to the dismay of some of it’s residents. Our gov (Calif)
    has suggested we be given money others won’t accept. That’s a good
    idea, since I’m a Californian.

    In 1958, So. Carolina had something over 2m people. 50 years later
    it had a tad over 4m, In 1958, California had 17m people. Now it
    boasts over 37m not counting the military and illegals.

    Says something doesn’t it?

    California’s economy is one of the top 10 on the planet.

    California is the 3rd largest country in the USA, after Alaska and
    Texas. Where is So. Carolina, which BTW, has a sub-tropical
    climate. In other words it’s damn hot and humid. Compare to
    our mild desert climate and Med. along the coast.
    Ever been to San Francisco or north, I have. It’s delightful.

    South Carolina boasts of many foreign auto plants..the reason
    why they could care less about unemployment in Detroit, or
    the failing auto companies..which are in a Right to Work State
    or their stockholders, people like you and me, average Joe Sixpack.

    South Carolina has few Hispanics, we have over 30%. South
    Carolina has a substantial black population,,,which after the Civil
    War ended, faced only the beginning of their problems with the “Red Shirts”
    a Klan type organization.

    I have discussed the most Southen States with local blacks. I won’t reveal what they said to me.

    So. Carolina’s economy depends upon tourism and it’s military bases,
    a given source of revenue. Wars benefit that state.

    If the gov of that state doesn’t care for federal help, fine. I am suggesting
    to Obama that it get NONE. Instead, send the funds to California, we need it..thanks partly to our mushrooming population, unlike S.C. I mean
    Los Angeles County alone has almost 10 people…Los Angeles 4m.
    Columbia, S.C. are you jealous?

    Send us your tired and poor, and you stimulus money.

  2. Liberty Card says:

    Eich bein Californian, and I say fooey on the stimulous money. California taxes EVERYTHING and still can’t live within its means.

    Our roads a crappy, the schools turn out dunces, and wwe continue to send nitwits like Pelosi, Boxer, and Feinstein to Congress to represent us. Businesses are bailing out of CA, and so are people.

    Cut taxes, make the state business friendly and CA won’t need porkulous money.

  3. “South Carolina works,” huh?


    Dan Lev got it right on that one. If SC fell off the map tomorrow, the world wouldn’t even blink. If it weren’t for tobacco, federal spending, and foreign auto-makers, Mark Sanford would be the governor of a third world state, for all intents and purposes. He’ll take that bailout money – just not a small bit he can claim comes with “too many strings attached,” like all the other phony GOP governors playing the same game.

    If this guy is the future face of the GOP, then enjoy your stay in the woods – it’s gonna be a long one.


  4. Micky 2 says:

    “like all the other phony GOP governors playing the same game.”

    Yea, right, Jindal is lining himself up for a run and you actually think its just a game so he can called on a flip flop when the campaign starts ?
    Sure, its all a game but not with the contempt you apply to it.
    Not taking this money will be a huge attribute in Jindals arsenel when this bill FAILS and hes running in 2012 . IMO thats why hes doin it so he can say “I told ya so and I didnt want no part of it”
    All Jindal has to in the next two years is show that hes increased employment and didnt need fed funds to cover unemployment insurance costs after the first 2 years and Obama will have a porblem.

  5. Karen Porterfield says:

    I love governor Mark Sanford! I have property on Pawleys Island in South Carolina and had some issues with the local water company overcharging. I wrote to the Governor, Mark Sanford, he responded personally and quickly, it was investigated and resolved. I wish there were more like him, integrity and gets the job done. He is certainly one of the few good guys.
    Those of you that bash South Carolina, Good, in fact great, I really don’t want to se you there, it’s a well kept secret and a haven for some of us from California, the land of fruits and nuts.
    It was great to read your interview, Mark Sanford is all that you say.

  6. Micky, Jindal is a liar. First of all, there’s no money allocated for high-speed rail in the stimulus bill. They can steer money towards it, but that’s up to Ray LaHood. Just like that volcano nonsense – it’s a general amount for the USGS. If they choose to spend it on volcanoes, or whatever, that’s their call. Still, it employs people. And the phoniest thing of all? Louisiana is ALREADY getting piles of federal money, and Jindal is happily taking it, he’s only refusing 100 mil of the stimulus money that was purely allocated for unemployment! The man makes me want to puke.

    As for Sanford, I’m surprised to see so much support for him from the GOP pundits. He’s certainly an odd character.


  7. Micky 2 says:

    “First of all, there’s no money allocated for high-speed rail in the stimulus bill. They can steer money towards it, but that’s up to Ray LaHood. ”

    I dont see what that has to do with anything I was talking about, but since you brought it up.

    Reid’s office denies its was an earmark
    ” the funds are for competitive grants that would be awarded by the transportation secretary. He went on to say that “the proposed Los Angeles-Las Vegas rail project would be eligible to receive funds.”
    The money has only been earmarked for an earmark Jersey, are you that stupid to not see the angle.
    What else do you think the moneys for ?

    Jindal is smart, he wants employment in the next two years, ya know, people producing ? And doesnt want to have to take over the fed obligation to pay unemployment at that level if all fails in two years because of Obamas stupid plan.

    “he’s only refusing 100 mil of the stimulus money that was purely allocated for unemployment! The man makes me want to puke.”

    Yea, I know, its so smart and just might work it kinda pi$$es you off huh ?

  8. Micky 2 says:

    Besides that, after Katrina and the bang up Job Blanco was doing in running that place into the bayou we should be grateful the state came to its senses. Hes very popular no matter what you say, make up, or think

  9. Dav Lev says:

    Three states which are refusing some of the stimulus money,
    including South Caroline, are located in the deep South.

    Read today’s LA Times for a scathing report about them. It’s shocking and revealing. The South was supposed to rise again, after Sherman’s march
    through Georgia. Apparently it is still sinking.

    Essentially, South Carolina ranks at either the bottom, or near bottom
    per average income per person.

    South Carolina is still living in the 30s, when dogma in the South
    prevailed over good common sense.

    The article compares Silicon Valley’s hopes, efforts and ambitions for the future,
    with Columbia, a joint private and public enterprise.

    Mark may not appreciate this article, which describes the future
    of America in northern California, vs the old, tired, ineffective and pointless and staid
    ways in South Carolina.

    I tend to agree.

    I mean, LA County has over 10m people..a GDP of over 600 billion.
    So. Carolina has cotton and rice..and foreign ownership of cars in
    a right to work state (right not to organize).

    To South Carolina, please don’t send us more of your tired and your poor.
    Since your form of government works..why should they want to come
    here for our benefits?

    As for myself, I have always wanted to earn over 250,000 year. Somehow
    I never reached that goal.

    Considering, according to my 1040 and 540 tax returns, at that income
    the taxes will be 39.5% and 9.3% (respectively) why bother?
    Unless I am wrong, the gov wanted to raise the state tax another 1.5%
    and Obama may increase the amount subject to withholding tax on people
    earning over the same 250,000.

    No, I’m going to reach 249,000 someday, and then quit. But I won’t be moving to South Carolina anytime soon.

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