On his final sprint, Sanford is pressing a conservative message.
In Beaufort, where he attended high school, Sanford pledged last week to pare spending. He also projected a command of local issues during a visit to the Chamber of Commerce. He went out of his way to praise hometown hero Candice Glover, a St. Helena Island native who is a contestant on "American Idol."
Sanford made no direct mention of the scandal, and none of his potential constituents asked him about it during a question-and-answer session. He did respond to a question asking him to compare "Greatest Generation" of World War II with younger Americans today: "I think we can always learn from life — period. Life is a great teacher — the ups and the downs of life."
But he directly addressed the scandal only when reporters asked about it.
"Do I have blemishes? Yes. Do we all have blemishes? Yes," he told reporters. "It goes back to what our minister said ... 'Do the events of your life refine or define your life?'"
Colbert (KOHL'-buhrt) Busch is the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert (kohl-BEHR'), the star of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report." She took a leave of absence from her position as the director of business development for Clemson University's Wind Turbine Drive Testing Facility to run for Congress.
She largely has stuck to issues such as job creation and debt reduction while ads from outside groups pound the former governor.
"We're staying focused on what the district wants," she told reporters after knocking on doors Thursday in a Charleston neighborhood.
Colbert Busch rejected the notion that Pelosi would play a factor in how she would represent the district and said she would be solely focused on the economic needs of the region.
"No one tells me what to do except the people of the 1st Congressional District. That's it," she said.
The race probably will be decided by which side can get more of their core supporters to the polls, which is a difficult feat in a special election.
Republicans note that in a 16-way race in the March 19 GOP primary, Sanford received about 20,000 votes and then picked up about 26,000 votes in a runoff against Curtis Bostic two weeks later. Colbert Busch collected about 16,000 votes in the primary to secure the nomination.
"She's just got a huge challenge," said Andy Brack, a onetime aide to former U.S. Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, D-S.C., and an unsuccessful candidate himself for the 1st District seat as a Democrat in 2000.
To win, Brack estimated that Colbert Busch would need to get most of the non-Sanford Republican primary vote — "a Herculean task. But there are some people who are going to vote against Sanford — and they're just going to come out of the woodwork because of his past troubles."
Dawson said the tough ads could suppress turnout among Republicans disenchanted with Sanford's past.
"Voter turnout is going to be everything," he said.
Associated Press writer Bruce Smith in Charleston, S.C., contributed to this report.
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