South Carolina Gov. Sanford on Why Cheney Needs to Defer to New GOP Voices, Stimulus, and Whether He’ll Run for President in 2012

Jun 10, 2009 4:57pm

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Huma Khan report:

On this week’s ABC News Shuffle podcast, GOP Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina talks about the Republican voices being heard and why Rush Limbaugh and former Vice President Cheney need to defer and allow some new ones to be heard.

You can listen to the podcast on iTunes or by clicking HERE.

Asked if it’s a good thing for former Vice President Cheney to be seen as the voice of the Republican Party, as recent polling indicates, Sanford said it “probably isn’t.” He expressed a similar sentiment about conservative talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh.

“While somebody may have been at the top at one point, to really keep an invigorated political system you've got to have new voices stepping in and step in to the plate in giving their opinion and probably every time you have some of the senior leaders continue to lay out their case or belief it probably usurps the voice of new leaders who'd be coming in,” Sanford said. “I think it's very very important you allow new voices to be part of the equation enunciating some of the same principles he's laying out.”

Sanford says the Republican party is currently in “the wilderness” and it may be some time until it finds its direction.

“There's a fairly significant tug of war of ‘Where we go next?’” Sanford said. “Do we broaden the tent with technology and outreach and other things, and that's the way out of the wilderness, or do we go back to some of the principles that got the party started in the first place. So there's going to be, I suspect, a lengthy debate… probably until the time of the Republican nominee in the next presidential cycle. We're going to be exploring and kicking that issue around, I suspect, for a while.”

On whether he is considering running as a candidate in the presidential race, Sanford said that right now, “it’s not my focus, it’s not my aim, it’s not my intent,” but added “you never say never.”

He also described why he rejected the $700 million allocated to his state from the federal stimulus package. The state’s Supreme Court just shot down the governor’s claims, ultimately making him the last governor to accept the money.

Sanford says the Supreme Court decision did not come as a surprise, but he still disagrees with the federal government’s assessment that the stimulus will help boost his state’s economy.

He said that by accepting the $700 million in education funds, instead of spending it on reducing the Palmetto State’s large debt, he would be digging “a billion dollar financial hole 24 months from now, and then the question was, and then what? I think it's financially reckless to embark on a journey to put you about a billion dollars in the hole in 24 months. “

He also said that now education “reform and restructuring…won't take place. … What this amount of federal money allows you to do is to pay for all the changes that would've been made under more austere financial conditions… [People are] actually tightening their belts in a way that will make them more competitive over the long run, and at the state level, not becoming competitive over the long run is deadly and so what this medicine out of Washington does is in fact weaken our state in the long run.”

Listen to the full podcast HERE or on iTunes.

– Jake Tapper and Huma Khan

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