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S.C. election approaching, Sanford, Dems make final ad push

Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch and Republican Mark Sanford go head to head during the 1st Congressional District debate on Monday, April 29, 2013 in Charleston S.C.
AP Images

Less than a week out from the special election for South Carolina's first congressional district, former Gov. Mark Sanford is making a final play for votes in the state, releasing a sympathetic new ad touting his commitment to the Republican "vision."

The ad, entitled "Vision," features Sanford facing the camera, pledging to "restore America."

"I fought hard over the years to make South Carolina a better place to call home. But those efforts pale now in the larger battle for the direction of our country," he tells voters, in the 30-second spot. This contest is "about two different visions of how we restore America and rein in Washington spending. We have got to get this right."

Sanford is running against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, to reclaim his old congressional seat in the state's first district. But he is shadowed by a 2009 scandal -- in which he mysteriously disappeared from South Carolina for four days while visiting his girlfriend in Argentina - that continues to cause him grief. And his attempts at a comeback has been fraught with a number of setbacks: Last month, his ex-wife Jenny Sanford acknowledged that her former husband had previously complained that he trespassed at her house; not long after, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) announced that it would not be spending money to support him.

Democrats are doing their best to remind voters of Sanford's not-so-ancient history: On Tuesday, the Democratic group House Majority PAC unveiled its own ad starring a Republican voter who "used to be for Mark Sanford" but no longer supports him.

"I used to be for Mark Sanford. Not any more," says Jennifer Stark, who is identified in the ad as a Mount Pleasant Republican. "He skipped town to be with his mistress on Father's Day. Sanford even asked his wife for permission to have the affair and wasted our taxpayer daughters for himself."

Stark says Sanford "disappointed" her by "the extent to which he'd betrayed our trust"; as she talks, negative Sanford-related headlines flash across the screen.

"I was mortified, angry, embarrassed, betrayed," she said. "I'm a Republican, but Mark Sanford just doesn't share our values."

According to the group, the ad, "Trust," will air as part of a previously announced six-figure television buy in the race. A spokesman for the Sanford campaign did not respond to questions about the size and scope of its buy.