Obama’s Top Stimulus Foe Launches TV Ad

By Teddy Davis

Apr 9, 2009 4:43pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis reports: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) is taking to the airwaves to defend his decision to reject $700 million in federal stimulus dollars. "For me, the easy thing would be to accept money handed out from Washington," Sanford says in the ad. "But the easy thing isn’t always the right thing."  Watch it by clicking here. The ad featuring Sanford is paid for by Carolinians for Reform, a 501(c)3 group. The group is spending $230,000 to air the ad statewide in South Carolina.  It follows an ad from the Democratic National Committee which accused Sanford, who is eyeing a 2012 run for president, of playing politics on the stimulus. Sanford’s television ad prompted a new round of criticism from the DNC. "It’s not surprising that Governor Sanford feels he needs to spend a quarter of a million dollars defending himself in a television ad after rejecting millions in funding for his state," said DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan in a statement released to reporters.  "Then again, if I had rejected $700 million for schools and public safety, I’d feel the need to go on TV and defend myself too, but that doesn’t excuse Governor Sanford for putting his political ambitions ahead of the needs of South Carolinians." Informed about the DNC’s latest criticism, Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer shot back, saying: "There’s a certain irony in the Democrats’ statement, given that it was not long ago they began airing political attack ads against Governor Sanford over his desire to pay down debt with stimulus money. So much for the new kind of politics we were promised by candidate Obama." In an interview with the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, Sanford acknowledged that he is taking heat in South Carolina for his decision. "The political math on it is certainly clear — it’s a political loser," said Sanford. "It is burning not building political capital." While Sanford is taking heat in his home state, he continues to believe, as he says in the ad, that "going further into debt will not solve a problem that was created by too much debt." The question looming over his potential 2012 bid for the GOP’s presidential nomination is whether he can win a national following among conservatives for standing up to the president on this issue.

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