Rivals weigh in on key topics

A Q&A with Mark Sanford (left) and Elizabeth Colbert Busch.

With just a few days until Tuesday's 1st District election, Republican Mark Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch kept up a busy schedule Friday, meeting with voters in Beaufort and southern Charleston County.

They also answered questions posed by The Post and Courier about issues they would face if elected to the vacant congressional seat, about the campaign so far, and about who in Congress they most admire.

Here are their responses. For the full list of the questions and answers, go to postandcourier.com.

P&C: Under what circumstances would you vote to raise the debt ceiling?

Colbert Busch: “I would only even consider it once we get on a path toward fiscal responsibility. We have to get that under control before there is any consideration.”

Sanford: “There are no immediate circumstances that would lead me to do that.”

P&C: What place in the world poses the biggest threat to our national security, and what should Congress do about it?

Colbert Busch: “Look what's going on in Syria. Look what's going on in North Korea. We have got to put enormous sanctions, strong sanctions on Syria, including but not limited to international banking to stop the funding for these sort of things.”

Sanford: “The immediate answer is obviously nuclear weapons in the Middle East, which is a hotbed of conflict, and given the amount of our energy supply that comes out of the Middle East, would probably be top on the list.”

P&C: What book have you read that you would most like voters to have read by Tuesday?

Colbert Busch: “It's actually a professional book called 'The Speed of Trust.' What this book tells you is the one reason that people want to get up and go to work in the morning is they trust and want to work with their colleagues, and the No. 1 reason they quit is they don't trust their colleagues.”

Sanford: “Thomas Friedman's 'The World is Flat.' It has been, from a political standpoint, a driver in my belief in our civilization and in our state's need to get our financial house in order and do things that make us more competitive. The world has changed.”

P&C: Is gridlock in Congress a bad thing? Why or why not?

Colbert Busch: “They're digging their heels in up there. It's not a good thing.”

Sanford: “The Founding Fathers intended some level of gridlock because they didn't want things to move fast. If they wanted efficiency, they would have done a king, a dictator or an oligarch. Gridlock is good when the tide of politics is going in a direction you don't want. It's bad when it's going in a direction that you do want.”

P&C: What federal expenditure would you try to cut first?

Colbert Busch: “I'd like to look at duplicative spending. We're spending $150 billion in duplication of programs. That would be the first thing I'd like to look at, besides the fact I'd cut spending with 10 percent of my salary.”

Sanford: “It's more than a target-rich environment in Washington, D.C. From a policy standpoint, you have to look at the big rocks that drive federal spending, which obviously would be entitlements. What's relevant is I have a history of looking under the hood at waste in government.”

P&C: In light of reports that Syria has used chemical weapons, what military assistance, if any, should the United States provide to the rebels there?

Colbert Busch: “I think we have to attack the problem, and that is who is doing this to their people. We have to have severe sanctions. ... Let there be no mistake about it, we will defend our allies.”

Sanford: “You've got to look at roles. The issue there is, the president of the United States said if you use chemical weapons, we will take decisive action and then now, he's like, 'I'm not sure what we're going to do.' I think it's a bigger question of executive-branch leadership ... than it is a decision of Congress.”

P&C: Who is your favorite current member of Congress and why?

Colbert Busch: “I have an enormous admiration for (Rep.) John Lewis (D-Ga.) because he's a civil rights icon and his relationship with my dad. How exciting is that going to be to be able to work with him.”

Sanford: “(Sen.) Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). I served with him for six years and grew to tremendously respect his decision-making process, his commitment to American sovereignty and a stable dollar, and his commitment to constitutional principles and limited government.”

P&C: You must vote on a bill laden with billions of dollars for projects many consider wasteful, but the bill also contains money to deepen Charleston's port. Do you vote yea or nay?

Colbert Busch: “Show me the bill. Show me the bill.”

Sanford: “It depends on the bill. ... There will be many subjective calls wherein you say, 'Well, in this case, that local perspective was so overriding relative to the merits of the bill' that you vote yes. In other cases, you'll say no, this larger bill is so deficient in its projection of government spending, debt and the deficit.”

P&C: What do you think has been the most overlooked issue in the campaign?

Colbert Busch: “I think we've pretty much nailed it, but I would like to see the press talk more about education.”

Sanford: “I'd say the nuts and bolts of how real the federal government's debt and accumulated deficits will affect every one of us, and how that process has already begun. It's going to have a real-world impact amazingly soon in people's lives.”

P&C: Drones have been in the news lately. Is Congress providing enough oversight of their use in the war against terror?

Colbert Busch: “There's a lot of debate on that.”

Sanford: “The American public clearly doesn't believe so, that's why (U.S. Sen.) Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) filibuster received the level of attention and commentary it did.”

P&C: Do you think police should be able to use drones as an unregulated form of observation here at home?

Colbert Busch: “I can see the military use because it saves our men's lives. That's dealing with the enemy. It's science and technology that's been going on a long time. It's just now starting to bubble to life. You do not want your privacy invaded.”

Sanford: “I do not. I think people are concerned, from a civil liberty standpoint, about the domestic use of drones and their impact on American privacy and, by extension, liberty.”

P&C: What committee would you most want to serve on?

Colbert Busch: “Because of my background and experience, I would want Transportation and Infrastructure.”

Sanford: “The Ways and Means Committee. It's really the driver of a big chunk of tax and spending policy.”

P&C: Yes or no, do you believe in human causation on climate change? If yes, what should Congress do about it?

Colbert Busch: “I think the research and science is still coming together. I know there's a lot of debate about it. When you have things like (air pollution in) China, when you have things like (Hurricane) Sandy, this is unusual. This is extraordinary. With almost 7 billion people on the planet, people definitely have an impact on our climate.”

Sanford: “You can end up in a long debate versus man's part versus nature's part ... all of which I think is irrelevant. ... It's happening, now what are we going to do about it? You've got to look for policies that make sense.”

P&C: What has been the worst thing about this campaign?

Colbert Busch: “I guess because I'm such an optimist I can't say there was a low point, but I will say I was on an incredibly rapid learning curve. I don't know if I would say it was difficult. I would say it was exhilarating.”

Sanford: “Having (House Democratic leader) Nancy Pelosi and associates drop $1 million of misleading TV and radio advertising on my head.”

P&C: What's been the highlight?

Colbert Busch: “I was very pleased with the debate. I'm just pleased because the message was so clear.”

Sanford: “The best thing? Encountering and experiencing firsthand the level of human grace that's out there.”