Sanford: I "failed mightily" in personal life, but not with taxpayers

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 2: South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford answer questions from the media at the meeting of the National Governor's Association after the governors spoke with President-Elect Barack Obama and Vice-President -Elect Joe Biden at Independence Hall December 2, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Obama pledged to include the state governments in the forming a package to help them through the tough economic times. Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
William Thomas Cain

In an ongoing bid to rebuild his political reputation, congressional candidate and former Gov. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., argued in an interview with NBC this morning that while he has "failed mightily" in his personal life, most people will ultimately "fail at something" - and "the one place I didn't ever fail was with the taxpayers."

Sanford, whose career was derailed in 2009 after he got caught visiting his extramarital girlfriend in Argentina, is attempting to remake his political image as part of his bid for the seat vacated by Tim Scott in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District. Sanford held that seat from 1995-2001, and Scott was recently tapped to replace Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who left the Senate to join a conservative think tank.

"The reality of our lives is, if we live long enough, we're going to fail at something," he said in an interview with NBC's "Today." "I absolutely failed in my personal life and my marriage. The one place I didn't ever fail was with the taxpayers."

He said he has been on "something of a personal journey" through which he has learned that "ultimately our brokenness as human beings is ultimately our connection and that goes to a larger article of faith and a whole lot more."

Sanford also touted his conservative credentials, which he pointed to as evidence that he would work to "get our financial house in order," as "all too few" in Washington are actually trying to "take real action" about the nation's "spending problem."

"If you look at my 20 years in politics, what you would see is a fairly remarkable consistency in trying to watch out for the taxpayer," he said. "I was actually rated number one in the entire United States Congress by the National Taxpayers Union in efforts to try and reduce government spending. Rated number one in the entire U. S. Congress by citizens against government waste, rated the most fiscally conservative governor in America. "

Asked if his political bid was merely an effort to achieve redemption in the wake of his 2009 demise, Sanford said "I think that we all hope for redemption in our lives" but that his focus is on the economy.

Yesterday, Sanford released the first campaign ad of his congressional candidacy, appealing to "a God of second chances" while also arguing "none of us go through life without mistakes."