MOUNT PLEASANT — Elizabeth Colbert Busch and Mark Sanford traded jabs Monday over Boeing, arguing about who is the bigger supporter of one of the Lowcountry's greatest sources of new jobs.
The 1st Congressional District rivals also agreed to a second face-to-face meeting — the same day a new poll showed Colbert Busch with her first significant lead in the race, which voters will decide May 7.
Both Colbert Busch, a Democrat, and Sanford, a Republican, spent part of their day painting different pictures of the other's support of Boeing.
Her campaign noted that when Sanford was in Congress, he voted repeatedly against funding for the nation's Import-Export Bank, which helps other countries buy Boeing Dreamliner planes made in North Charleston. Last year, Boeing Chairman James McNerney said the bank plays a “crucial role” in selling planes made here.
Colbert Busch spokesman James Smith said other Republicans, such as U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, have supported the Export-Import Bank — and said Colbert Busch does, too, because it supports more than $500 million in sales for state businesses.
Sanford said he supports the bank but voted against its funding because it raided money from Social Security.
“There were any number of meritorious ideas I voted against while in Congress because of the way they were paid for,” he said.
Sanford visited Hay Tire on Monday morning — the first of 15 planned stops across the district this week — and questioned why Colbert Busch is declining his invitation to appear with him.
Asked about his votes against the bank, he replied, “Why doesn't she, instead of sending out a press release, come and debate me right now?”
Both candidates did agree Monday to a second face-to-face meeting April 30, one day after the only other scheduled debate. Goose Creek NAACP is sponsoring the event, which will be held at 8 p.m. in the Berkeley Electric Co-op's 2 Springhall Drive office, chapter President David Cakley said.
Meanwhile, Sanford appeared with a sign outlining Colbert Busch's $30,000 in donations from labor unions, including the union that filed a National Labor Relations Board complaint about Boeing's move to South Carolina.
Sanford has criticized Colbert Busch repeatedly, on the campaign trail and in a television ad, for accepting support from a group that sought to end Boeing's operations here.
Colbert Busch has said she is a Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce board member and would not be beholden to unions or other special interests, if elected.
A Public Policy Polling survey of 796 likely voters showed she has a 50 percent to 41 percent lead over Sanford, with Green Party candidate Eugene Platt at 3 percent.
The polling company is considered a Democratic-leaning group, but it accurately predicted Sanford's April 2 runoff win.
The poll released Monday was done over the weekend — several days after news broke that Sanford faces a May 9 Family Court date over allegations the former governor trespassed at his ex-wife's home. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percent.
Asked if the trespassing incident gave them doubts about Sanford, 51 percent of those polled said it gave them very serious or somewhat serious doubts. About 44 percent said it gave them no doubts at all.
Sanford took out a full-page advertisement in Sunday's Post and Courier to address the trespassing accusation and the involvement of the national Democratic Party in the race.
“It seems like Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have decided to try and buy this race,” he said in the ad.
The National Republican Congressional Committee withdrew its support for Sanford last week in the wake of the trespassing accusation.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.