- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford called on President Barack Obama on Monday to get the Democratic National Committee to pull an ad criticizing the Republican’s opposition to federal stimulus money.

The DNC is airing an ad in South Carolina that says Sanford is putting politics ahead of health care, jobs and schools by trying to turn down part of the federal stimulus money.

Sanford last week wrote Obama and asked for a waiver that would let the state pay down debt during the next two years with $700 million instead of using it to create jobs and avoid deep program cuts. The White House didn’t immediately comment on Sanford’s request.

The governor said in a statement it was “disturbing” the ad was launched before the White House had responded. Sanford said the ad is at odds with Obama’s campaign promises of ending politics as usual.

“It’s in that spirit that I’d respectfully ask him to end this ad, as it shatters the idea of change he so well articulated this fall _ and to ask his Democratic National Committee to put an end to this mudslinging and get back to an honest debate about the future of our country,” Sanford said.

The DNC said the ad was airing on cable news channels, but did not immediately provide details about how long it would run or how much was being spent.

“South Carolina’s working families cannot afford for their governor to be distracted by empty political posturing,” Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse said in a statement.

Sanford is not the only one upset with the DNC ad.

State Rep. Bobby Harrell, a Republican who has been critical of the stimulus plan but wants to spend the money on roads, bridges and other infrastructure, said he didn’t give the DNC permission to use his picture in the ad alongside U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, South Carolina’s highest ranking Democrat in Washington.

Clyburn has lambasted Sanford and other governors who said they may not take some of the stimulus money, calling such a move a “slap in the face of African-Americans.”

South Carolina stands to see as much $8 billion during the next two years from its share of the $787 billion stimulus plan when tax breaks and non-state spending items are included, such as Pell grants. Sanford says about $2.8 billion is heading to state programs and he’ll have control of $700 million. He wants to use that to pay down debt, including the state’s retirement system liabilities.

But the future of that money may not even be for Sanford to decide. Last week, state Sen. Hugh Leatherman, a Republican, introduced a resolution that would allow the state legislators to spend the cash despite Sanford’s opposition. Leatherman’s committee debates that measure this week.

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