By Meghashyam Mali - 05/08/13 11:45 AM EDT
“I would say yesterday is yesterday and today is today, and I look forward to working with them is what I’d say,” said the former South Carolina governor, who topped off an unlikely political comeback with his victory, on CBS’s “This Morning.”
Sanford had left the governor’s office in disgrace after admitting to an extramarital affair, but is now headed to Washington after defeating Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert by 54 percent to 46 percent.
Sanford’s personal missteps had been a central issue in the campaign. The National Republican Congressional Committee declined to spend money on his race in the final weeks and GOP leaders and fellow Republicans from the state kept their distance from the candidate.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), asked on Tuesday morning if he would “welcome” Sanford, avoided even mentioning the candidate’s name, saying only that the decision was up to the voters and not his GOP colleagues.
But Sanford on Wednesday said that voters had forgiven him for his past behavior and had weighed both his character and policy stances.
“That whole notion of forgiving another person and saying OK, let’s begin this process of building and moving forward I think is part and parcel of human grace which I think is a reflection ultimately of God’s grace,” said Sanford on CBS. “And what I think that they say is the guy has a well-proven track record with regard to indeed trying to do something on financial issues.”
But Sanford still faces lingering personal issues, including a trespassing charge from his ex-wife. He declined to say if his ex-wife had spoken with him after his victory.
“I’m not going to relay family conversations, but what I said before was that it’s a more complex situation than meets the eye,” he told CBS’s Norah O’Donnell.
Sanford also denied that his election would make it harder for the GOP to reach out to female voters.
“I think I’m a then-candidate, now congressman-elect, who has well-chronicled failures of 2009, but somebody who has learned from them, somebody who has been forgiven for them, and somebody who’s going to work awfully hard to make that notion of what our minister said, making the events of your life again refining rather than defining,” Sanford said.
Sanford, speaking on Fox, said he intended to focus on spending and fiscal issues when he returns to the House, where he served before moving to South Carolina’s governorship.
“I think we are at a tipping point as a civilization and we have a relatively short window to get this right,” he said. “So I want to go up to not only try to represent this congressional district but to impact the way that Washington spends money.”
Sanford also joked that he was ready for any blowback from Stephen Colbert, after his sister’s defeat.
“I’ll live with that and all the other slings and arrows that come with life,” Sanford said on Fox.