Sanford, Arrington stage “heated” debate

Sanford, Arrington stage “heated” debate
June 02 15:07 2018 Print This Article

First Congressional District incumbent Mark Sanford faced GOP challenger Katie Arrington in a heated debate onboard USS Yorktown Friday. Not only were there lots of heated statements directed at each other by the candidates – the temperature on the Yorktown hangar deck approached 100 degrees, with close to 100% humidity. The candidates needed to remove their jackets and stay hydrated during the 90 minute debate.

The candidates went after each other from the outset. Sanford accused Arrington of being a tax-and-spend politician, citing a $1.4 Billion increase in the state General Fund budget during her two years in the South Carolina House and her vote for a 12 cents per gallon increase in the state tax on gasoline and diesel fuel over six years. Arrington labeled Sanford as a career politician, noting that he first ran for Congress in 1994.

Another issue in the debate was support for President Donald Trump. Arrington said, “Mark has spent the better part of two years bashing President Trump on CNN.”  She equated Trump to the Republican team captain and suggested the Republicans in Congress are obligated to follow his lead. Sanford responded by asking the rhetorical question, “Who is the captain?” He pointed to the hundreds in the crowd and said, “I would say you are (the captain).” Neither candidate supported Trump during the February 2016 South Carolina primary.

Arrington went after Sanford for not using his position on the House Transportation Committee to bring money to the district for needed infrastructure projects. Sanford defended his position, citing the $21 Trillion national debt and runway annual budget deficits. He has sponsored the Penny Plan (HR-5572), a bill that would force Congress to reduce spending by 1% a year for five years until the budget is balanced and limit federal spending to 18% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) afterward.

The candidates fundamentally agreed on most issues, including the need to reform our healthcare system, improving the National Flood Insurance Program, building the border wall, protecting the right to life for the unborn, and opposing the Iran nuclear deal signed by President Obama by executive order. Arrington suggested a funding source for the border wall – charging a border crossing fee for those entering the country legally from Mexico.

In the closing statements, Arrington said, “It is time to turn the page on the Mark Sanford era. It is time an outsider to replace a career politician and work to fix our roads and bridges take care of our armed forces and our veterans.” Sanford closed by stating that America is at a tipping point with its $21 Trillion national debt and is at risk for a devalued dollar and runaway inflation. He pointed to his endorsements from conservative groups FreedomWorks, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and Tea Party Patriots.

The debate was sponsored by the Charleston County Republican Party and was moderated by WTMA talkshow host Charlie James. The panelists were Charleston City Councilman Harry Griffin, Charleston Chronicle Editor Barney Blakeney, 94.3 WSC radio host Kelly Golden and Charleston GOP Vice-chair Nikki Claiborne. The primary is set for Tuesday, June12, with absentee voting already underway.