tv Conversations with Retiring Members - Rep. Mark Sanford CSPAN December 16, 2018 12:06am-12:34am EST
>> that is what they call you? sen. mccaskill: yes. i will be sad, this has been a huge part of my life. i am also very excited about what comes next. freedom. a sense of i have things i want to get done and things i want to say. by this time next year, i will not be worrying about how on before christmas before i actually get home. >> u.s. representative mark sanford of south carolina was defeated in november and is leaving in january. he recently sat down with c-span for an interview to reflect on his political career and time in congress. this is about 30 minutes. congressman mark sanford, as you prepare to leave the house of representatives for a second time, what are you thinking?
an openford: it is canvas. i don't know what comes next. >> any ideas or thoughts? rep. sanford: not at this point . my brain still works, i am not tied into that. i have not scored commercial opportunities. runink it is important to through the finish line. if you have one foot in and one foot out you are asking for trouble. come january 5, it will be a complete blank canvas and i will forget all of that. >> you ran back in 1994, why? rep. sanford: by was worried about debt and government spending. i am still worried about the debt deficit and government spending and its implications for republicans. >> it is worse today. rep. sanford: much. >> why? 1992 unford: at least in
had them out there talking about , look at these numbers, look at these numbers, it was at least an awareness. it was at least given lip service. that weremmissions set up at that time where people looked in detail. we have the mathematica nondrug. the three-month -- the three monkeys, see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil in relations to the debt deficit. that is really frightening given the implications of our lives. in terms of inflation, the value of the dollar, ultimately, the work of everything we have to date and going forward. isdo you think that there any hypocrisy by the republican party that was very critical of spending under barack obama, and he passed a tax cut that will cost upwards of one trillion dollars and questions as to whether or not it will pay
itself? rep. sanford: i was upfront about that. news when i said the obvious was, this is not a middle-class tax cut. fundamentally there was a corporate tax restructuring and reduction bill. that is fundamentally the bulk of the apple that mean that tax bill. it was a bet. it said, if we become more competitive we will have corporations moving to other parts around the world. might we not -- might we not save some jobs that holds onto the revenue. theas a bit on how you make country more competitive as a relates to tack policy -- tax policy. the reason i ultimately voted for it was, it if you look at it in the government, it was consistent for the last 50 years. 18% gdp, at 18% of the total
value, everything we have spent in this country. if you look at the numbers, it is about 18%, at the beginning it is 18% in the 10 year window. rejiggering, it prevented the uptick in terms of what would have come over the next 10 years. as a conservative, it was something i felt comfortable with. the bigger issue is the one you raise. you have to couple tax reduction. that is the part that is not being done. we are not going to touch entitlements, which is financially reckless and ultimately harmful to the next generation. it will depend on those entitlement programs. you have a whole number of different things added whether it is direct in terms of the subsidies, or indirect with subsidies such as taxes. >> you first came when newt gingrich rose to become speaker
of the house. how was he a speaker? rep. sanford: he would have been a incredible general. he had a commanding presence. i think he had the ear of the conference and the focus of the nation. it was a time magazine article something to that effect. he was centerstage. often times that happens with these types of things. people get ahead of himself -- ahead of themselves. is, a brilliant man. one that probably let some of it get to his head and had much to do with his downfall. when it came to agreements between the speaker and president bill clinton, what did they do right, and are there lessons for president trump and soon-to-be speaker pelosi? try, try, and try
again. nothing happened until the third attempt. there were two other attempts prior where the president had not accepted and ultimately accepted on the third. i would also say this, there are values to divided government. you saw balanced budgets during where you had newt gingrich and president clinton have very different philosophical perspectives. ultimately come together on budgets and other things because it was in their mutual best interest. did i think there was a lesson to be taken there, whether all democrat, all republican, off to the race is on spending. if you have one check upon the other it works out well for the taxpayer. >> your party will be in the minority in a house. what advice would you give them? you have been in the majority. in thenford: governorship, that is a different experience.
is, this is aay time to refocus if you look at what happened in suburban districts like the one that i represent, there was a lot of the trump, not so much the agenda, but the delivery of that agenda. i would focus on messaging and policy. ultimately, good policy makes good politics. i think we have been dancing around some of the bigger issues and avoiding them. i think that is through the own detriment politically and through the country's own detriment and policies. >> why is your district now a democratic house member that will replace you? rep. sanford: pretty amazing thing. it has been about 50 years since that. literally the most conservative district to fill outside of the district in oklahoma, which was becauseit flipped
politics are local and people became quite concerned with what the president had proposed. was in the primary for my stand on offshore drilling, first on my primary opponents as the president. i said i'm not against the president, i am for the people in the district. you had every coastal mayor, with a formal proclamation with the city council saying, we do not think this is a good idea. not for the implication offshore, but for the implications on shore. we want to have a voice. andink for this very reason as a conservative you would believe in federalism that not all decisions need to be made in washington. issue and ia big would argue was a pivotal issue to flip that seat. was your primary race
implemented of where the republican party is now? sen. mccaskill: it is -- rep. capord: it is implemented not staying that way. a solid blue district would not stay that way. it is indicative of where the independent voter is. that is more troubling and more telling. you have a lot of soccer moms out there who consistently voted republican in years past, but this year voted democrat. i walked into a restaurant and everyuy said, i've voted single election cited -- cycle lasts 50 years republican, but this time i am voting democrat. i think it is a wake-up call that we can pretend it does not exist, or we could listen and say, wait a minute, a marginal districts across the country, or even not so marginal districts, republicans got hammered because
of tone in the way that things were being delivered. you personally losing in the primary, why? simple answerthe was, i was not trump enough in the age of trump. i have spoken up on different issues where i disagree with the president. i think it is important to do so. i believe in the founding fathers framework which was, we do not elect emperors were kings in the country and their needs ande -- between legislative judicial branches. each can be a check upon the other. that is not the most of the republican elect this year. they say we want you to support our president. in politics you explain, you lose, then i go into a meeting and say i support the president on an overwhelming bulk of , and they don't want
to hear the but issue. i say, i lost because i was not trump enough in the age of trump. he got himself involved in things, which is highly unusual when he tweets against a number of people sitting in the house saying, he needs to go. loss, i had of my my four sons there with me. look at the game data tapes and go back to my talk on , i wasng that race and as clear minded and as focused as i have been in a long time, talking about teams that had much to do with the trajectory of our country. the direction of political debate these days, and not so much to do with my particular ways, but the implications of what happened in the race in the primary, and in the general, in terms of elections going forward. has donald trump forever change the republican party? rep. sanford: i hope not.
set on any number of different occasions that this , as of being as course condescending, as rough as he is , is not with others consistent with the idea of public discourse and public debate. is a realo said there problem. nobody is perfect. i certainly get that, we all get that. have other presidents lied in the past? yes. but to do it on a daily basis as he's does, it is a problem. reality is what needs to be possible. you may come from the right and i may on the left on a given issue, but as long as there is something object of, he can take our different flavors and debate that. ,ut if everything is subjective
we have a rope problem as a republican. tear lines with tone and with regard to truth that i think are incredibly problematic if we do not turn back. i would hope that the president has not changed the trajectory of the republican party forever. i hope this is a temporary blip in the radar screen. >> did you vote for him? rep. sanford: as you just said, that vote is private. there is a sanctity to the ballot box and people. >> so you will not answer? rep. sanford: i did not say i would not answer, i just said it is a privacy for the voter. i will ask you and you won't ask me, how about that. >> you served as governor, then you came back to the house. did you find frustration having served as governor in the executive branch of state
governor, now coming to the legislative branch? rep. sanford: they are very different animals. i knew that going in. what i did not know was -- it is funny. my number three son, bolton, had said to me back at the primary, dad, this is a blessing. it was time for you to go. son's see things that you can't see at times. i love people, i love the political process, i love ideas in the debate that goes with it. what i have not enjoyed is the newfound tone that we have found of trump.ion i think it is problematic, i think it is destructive, i don't do get is good for either party, debate or our republic. what i would say is, it was not so much being back in the legislative audie that was troublesome for me, but the last
year and a half that was problematic. >> in a sense it is tribalism. rep. sanford: i completely agree. happening.are i did these town hall meetings last spring and you would have a thousand people. a lot of people would do -- she wouldings have people screaming and whatnot at you. then you go to a republican event and you would say one thing that is slightly anti-trump and then you would have people screaming at you. there is no room in the middle. that is horrifying. i was a very conservative --ublican, and this year which is a crazy thing in my
voting record. binary, it isly polar. survive as a republic if we stay in this polarized zone we are in right now. that has happened. the other thing that has happened, which is my concern about the president and his tone, is giving people the license to say crazy things. the last weekend i went to -- i will not say which group, i will say a christmas/hanukkah party, a gop party. in that meeting i was cussed out three different types at the christmas/hanukkah party. is that crazy or what? been totallye not enthusiastic about the president and parts of his agenda. i am a very conservative republican. this is some months ago.
i had -- he had been chewing on me hard. i don't know you personally but i know you by reputation. what is going on here just does not fit with what i know of you. he turned to me and said, here is the deal. if the president of the united states can say anything to anybody at any time on any subject, why can i? a lott has happened is, of people have taken newfound license. getting cussed out at a christmas/monica party is something i have never seen in 25 years of politics. there is something weird in the water and how it resolves itself, i don't know. i think it is very important that it does. >> do you think the president will face a primary challenge, and would you consider challenging him? rep. sanford: i do not know whether he will or will not.
it is a crazy thought, simply because, whoever would do it would just get annihilated or he is very popular in the republican primary circles. i saw that in my own primary. i think it is important that he be challenged, i will say that. >> would you be one of those people? rep. sanford: friends have suggested it, but i am not there. ?> are you considering it would you think about it? rep. sanford: you think about a lot of things but that does not mean you do them. >> what it you think about senator jeff flake and ohio governor john kasich? rep. sanford: it is important somebody does it. i went to virginia for business school. they had a case method there. you basically talk out an idea in the middle and hopefully the truth and the better solution falls out of the bottom. every party, every
meeting, every deliberation is made better by challenging of ideas. that is the american way. the beauty of the american system. you would get paraded for a quick disagreement of the president. i said, wait a minute, i thought we could agree to disagree? that is the beauty of the american system. it is a wave the populism that i do not fully understand. we don't deviate from this path fairly soon, we will not address issues out there that have with them the capacity to -- when asked, what is the big threat to america? not the caliban, not the russians, but the american debt.
there are things that keep it rolling, but they are not the core issues that will tell us whether we will survive. >> have you ever cast a vote that you have regretted? rep. sanford: i have. >> do you want to answer that? rep. sanford: sure. when you come in as a young member of congress, you are asked to take votes that you don't know much about. as you gain experience and learn to haveu learn enough some degree of familiarity of fuss- familiarity with the -- subject. we had a vote on criminal justice in reform and i remember there was a vote back in 1994, 1995 on crack versus traditional cocaine. and a tougher sentencing law for cracks and cocaine. for the tougher sentencing on crack rather than
cocaine. i had a lengthy conversation with bob bar who was a prosecutor up in georgia. he was on the judiciary committee. was arospect, that mistake in vote and has troubled me since. i have done things to try to correct it since then. in terms of sensing reform measures that we tried to institute, but that vote has always haunted me. a very publicd life the last 20 years, any regrets? rep. sanford: are you kidding me. i have a lot of regrets. but what i would say is, and this is part of the blessing of having the chance of politics after i blew myself up in 2009, i have seen, and i have experienced firsthand's people's grace, which is a reflection of god's grace. that is an incredibly humbling
journey to walk. particularly any public venue. , i have lots of regrets. but what i would also say is, mine are out there. i think we all have regrets. if we're honest with ourselves, a chapter, ae sentence, a portion of our lives where we wish we could push whirlwind/play, but we cannot -- rewind/play, but we cannot. you hope you learn from those experiences. i hope it has been my particular journey, but it is something i work on every day as i think about what i get wrong and what i get right. >> what did you learn about mark sanford? rep. sanford: he needed a book. -- we need a book. we don't have time for that. i learned many, many different things. i learned in some ways you have
not lived until you fail. what i mean by that is, there is something that is important in terms of public humiliation, in terms of tempering the soul. for me, and i don't know what it but anythinglk, like giant strategic tax plan. .eep walking not until you fail do you really where mi, whyess am i here, what do i want to do with my life. that i think is very, very important. that is the humility that comes with it and is very important. since i have been back i have had a number of conversations with john lewis, who is a magnificent human being. the first time i was in congress i do not have conversations. not because i did not like john lewis, but i was busy with my own self.
i want to sit beside john lewis and pick his brain for wisdom. up tot does is slows you say, i know what i believe, i believe i am right and what i believe, but i am not sure. help me to understand your perspective just a little bit better. when you have not had a failure, you have had too much of your own opinion. you don't stop and say, i think i know, but i am not sure that i know. i think there is value to that. >> do you have another campaign in you? rep. sanford: who knows. when i left congress the first time i thought that was it for me the first time. then a couple years later i ran for governor. he tragically died. john drove down from south carolina and had lunch with me and my former wife and we talked about the parable of talents and how you need to do this and what
not. thoughternorship i politics was over for me. -- i don't think never say never. >> what will go through your mind when you leave here? rep. sanford: it will be nostalgic. this is been a big chapter in my life. i don't know what comes next. , and i love the world of ideas. the debate that goes with the deliberation of ideas. so what you are going to be thinking is, i was blessed to serve. it was a complete honor that first district of the state of south carolina would give me the different chances they have given me to have my voice in the arena, in the ring. it is time to figure out what comes next. >> if you could change anything in terms of the institution of
the house, having served here three terms in the 1990's and three terms wrapping up, what would you change? if anything. rep. sanford: i think the composition of some of the districts. trying to get your encompass see . -- incumbency. i think that would be an important key. not in some election years. but for the most part. batch ofsmall districts on the right and on the left that are really in play. beyond that, everybody is that causes people to play to either extreme rather than this vital center that has been the hallmark of the american experience. if you could change anything, it is not within the institution, but it is the way in which some of these congressional
and time in congress. this is 45 minutes. steve: congressman, let's begin with the midterm election. why do you think you lost? what does that tell you about the state of the republican party and your hometown, orange county california? rep. rohrabacher: it showed me we have a weakness in the system and billionaires who can heavily financed elections from a have a major impact on political power in the united states. i have what i call bolshevik billionaires, who decided i had to go. i was outspent over 10 to