MOUNT PLEASANT — Former Gov. Mark Sanford took aim today at his Democratic 1st District rival for dodging his offer to debate the issues face to face.

But Charleston businesswoman Elizabeth Colbert Busch’s campaign fired back at a piece of Sanford’s congressional record: his lack of support for the nation’s Import-Export Bank, which has helped other countries buy Boeing airplanes made in the district.

Sanford visited Hay Tire at 11 this morning — the first of 15 planned stops across the district this week. He has invited Colbert Busch to appear with him, but her campaign has shown no indication that it will.

However, Colbert Busch has accepted the Goose Creek NAACP” invitation to an April 30 forum, said David Cakley, the group’s president.

That’s the second scheduled face-to-face meeting between Sanford and Colbert Busch, and it also will include Green Party candidate Eugene Platt.

Asked about Colbert Busch’s criticism of his votes against the Import-Export Bank, Sanford replied, “Why doesn’t she, instead of sending out a press release, come and debate me right now?”

Colbert Busch spokesman James Smith has said she’s running an aggressive campaign and denied her avoiding Sanford’s appearances amounts to dodging him.

Sanford said he supports the bank but had voted against its funding because it raided money from the Social Security trust fund. “There were any number of meritorious ideas I voted against while in Congress because of the way they were paid for,” he said.

Sanford also planned stops at Page’s Okra Grill here and Holt Transmission Service on Sam Rittenberg Boulevard in West Ashley.

Read more in tomorrow’s Post and Courier.