Campaign journalism is a favorite of reporters and readers alike. I am not a fan, finding the horse-race coverage to be frustrating. But with just one campaign of national interest right now, it’s bearable.
The Associated Press reports:
It’s now up to voters render a verdict on former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s quest for political redemption, as one of the more unusual political campaigns in a state known for rough and tumble politics draws to a close.
Sanford, once mentioned as a potential GOP presidential contender, saw his political career disintegrate four years ago when he disappeared for five days, telling his staff he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. He returned to admit he had been in Argentina with his mistress – a woman to whom he is now engaged.
Sanford later paid a $70,000 ethics fine, the largest in state history, for using public money to fly for personal purposes. His wife Jenny divorced him.
Now Sanford is trying to stage a political comeback by winning the 1st District congressional seat he held for three terms in the 1990s when the conservative coastal district had a somewhat different configuration.
The race has had quite a few ghosts in it, what with Sanford’s public moral failings. He faced a tough primary and his entire campaign was walloped with the recent news that he’d trespassed on his ex-wife’s property, in violation of their custody arrangements.
And yet, somehow, he’s actually still a contender. Today’s election day, so we’ll know more soon.
So, what does this have to do with GetReligion? Well, tons of campaign reporters are down in South Carolina covering the race and I rather enjoyed Yahoo News’ update from the road (literally!):
Between stops around town, Sanford ditched his campaign driver and started hitching rides with reporters. He asked to ride in Yahoo News’ rental car and we zoomed off toward the next event. On the way, I asked him about his unorthodox campaign tactics. After all, Sanford was meeting only a couple people at each stop. The entire exercise seemed grossly inefficient.
“My view is, bigger the crowd, the fewer the votes,” Sanford said. “If you can just keep moving as an individual and you’re present–I don’t want to sound Buddhist on you–but you’re in the moment. You’re present with them, you actually can have a real conversation. You can talk about issues that they like, what they don’t like, in a way that you can’t if you have a crowd.”