Mark Sanford's Bare-All Apology Tour Isn't Working

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Mark Sanford placed a full-page ad in the Charleston Post and Courier Sunday to explain why he was busted for trespassing on his ex-wife property, following many other explanations in his campaign for a political comeback. In his first ad in his race for South Carolina's first congressional district, Sanford said," I've experienced how none of us go through life without mistakes." He believed in a "God of second chances." We first saw Sanford's confessional tendencies in his press conference announcing this Argentinian affair that drove him from office in 2009. But his endless confessions work for Oprah's couch, not for politics. A new poll shows Elizabeth Colbert-Busch beating him 50 percent to 41 percent.

In his full-page ad, Sanford says, "This week's news caught everyone by surprise as the mechanics of my and Jenny's divorce had been sealed to avoid the boys having to deal with any of this." That's now unavoidable, apparently. Last week, the Associated Press broke the news that Sanford had to go to court for trespassing on ex-wife Jenny Sanford's property. (They're not allowed on each other's property without permission.) Sanford explains, as he began to explain last week, that he was just taking his son to his mom's house to watch the Super Bowl. While the press has covered his private live, Sanford asks voters, "I would just ask that you be a little bit more deliberative in making your judgments." The National Republican Congressional Committee pulled funding of Sanford's campaign after reports of the trespassing court date. 

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It's only because of Sanford's bare-all strategy that we even know about his trespassing. The National Review's Betsey Woodruff reports that South Carolina Republicans think the trespassing story would have never leaked if Sanford hadn't brought his mistress-turned-fiancée, Maria Belén Chapur, to his victory party the night of the Republican primary. It was the first time one of his sons had met Chapur. "Anybody who thinks this story would’ve happened if Jenny hadn’t been hurt on election night is kidding himself," a state political person tells Woodruff.

"There are two sides to every story," Sanford says in his ad, "and time will tell as to whether I made the right call in that instance as a father." The polls say he did not. Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning firm, finds Colbert-Busch beating Sanford by 9 points, compared to her 2-point lead in late March. (The election is May 7.) This is partly because Republicans seem to be planning on staying home — while Mitt Romney won the district by 18 points in 2012, PPP finds that among those who plan on voting in the special election, Romney won by just 5 points. Colbert Busch is winning among independents by 51 percent to 35 percent, and she's getting 19 percent of the Republican vote.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.