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Sanford Forced to Accept Stimulus Money

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 17, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And tonight in "Your America" the Obama administration is finally acknowledging that it may have overestimated just how effective that their stimulus plan would be and how many jobs it would create.

Now our next guest has been an outspoken critic of the plan from the very beginning and was the only governor to take his opposition all the way to court. Joining me now is South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.

Governor, welcome back. Tell us about the court decision. I guess the federal government can dictate to the state's everything they do. Unfunded mandates. They can make you change your laws. I thought we had a constitution that protected against that.

GOVERNOR MARK SANFORD, R-S.C.: Well, not as much as we'd like. And in this case, it was more than just the federal government, it was our states Supreme Court that openly decided what we had to here at the state level.

Video: Watch Sean's interview

In essence what we have right now is an export of Washington's financial recklessness to states across the country. And I think we will see it ultimately met with not jobs, but frankly, disastrous consequences in terms of this country's finances and frankly in terms of state's finances across the country.

HANNITY: Governor, I tried on this program to want anybody that would listen that this stimulus plan was not stimulative. That it was all back- ended, that this was about acquiring power for the government.

You were one of the few people in the forefront of this debate as well. They promised us, for example, unemployment wouldn't go above 8 percent. And they said it would go as high as 9 percent if we didn't pass the stimulus bill. Now it's 9.4 percent. But Obama's ratings remain high. Why?

SANFORD: Well, I think that that, too, will pass because there's already beginning to be a disconnect from a polling standpoint, between, basically, folks' personal affinity toward Obama and personal affinity towards his policies.

And that's obviously tied to stimulus. It's tied to the health care reform. It's tied to cap and trade. It's tied to a bunch of different things but I think the tip of the iceberg, the thing that's causing the most friction out there is the American public's restlessness. I know that that's the case certainly here in South Carolina with the absolute financial recklessness that they see, again, being exported out of Washington, D.C. to states across this country.

This notion that, you know, basically, you've got to take the stimulus money or else is I think very, very dangerous. That we will end up in a financial hole of about $1 billion 24 months from now as a result of spending every dime in this stimulus money.

HANNITY: Well, he quadrupled the debt, the deficit in one year. He's going to literally quadruple the debt by the time all this is said and done. You know there's a recent poll out. Peter Heart poll, 66 percent of registered voters now say the deficit and debt pose a very big threat to our country and to our future.

It seems the American people are catching up where maybe you and I were back in January. Do you think that — go ahead.

SANFORD: Yes, I think that the tea parties of April 15 where a tipping point in terms of the American psyche. That enough people got to the point of critical mass of saying enough is enough. This is crazy. And what I think they're beginning to capture is what has been long recorded in terms of economic history in this country and around the world.

Paul Kennedy wrote an interesting book called "The Rise and Fall of Great Powers." And he talked about how the imperial overstretch or basically spending your way into oblivion happen to be the death nail to many civilizations across time. And it's something that I think the American public is indeed waking up to because if we don't, I think we have a much larger problems ahead.

HANNITY: All right. Clearly, there are going to be implications for 2010 and certainly the 2012 election. This is now Obama's deficits. This is his debt, this is his economy, this is his health care plan. Do you think ultimately — and of course, his positions on national security is a separate issue.

Do you think this ultimately is the undoing of the Democratic Party? I mean James Carville was bragging about, you know, a generation of Democratic rule. I don't see it happening.

SANFORD: I guess the Bible says pride cometh before a fall so I would take humble exception with Carville's suggesting on that front because I think that with the numbers point to, and you can always see it in this month's job numbers, you know, the Obama administration was out talking about 100,000 jobs either saved or added.

And this notion of saving a job becomes really amorphous in terms of what that means. While, meanwhile, over 300,000 jobs were lost around the country. So there's a lot of backtracking and I think that that is the bellwether as to what comes next. If this economy continues to deteriorate, I think Obama is going to have severe problems as well, by extension, the Democratic Party.

HANNITY: Governor, your term ends at a very interesting time, at the end of 2010. There's been a lot of speculation you may consider a run for the presidency. A lot of people around the country have rallied around your fiscal conservatism and your rejection to the stimulus. Have you been thinking about a run for the presidency?

SANFORD: No, I haven't. I mean I'm thinking about going back to the coast of South Carolina. And I'm trying to get back into the world of business and all those kinds of things. I'll take care, tomorrow to tomorrow, but that's my aim right now.

HANNITY: All right, you've ruled it out completely or is the door open just a squeaker?

SANFORD: No, no. You're going to play that game with me. You know anytime you say, you haven't definitively, absolutely, totally planned out the rest of my life, then that means the door is still open. And then you come back and throw a different question at me.

I'm saying, that's my aim, that's not where I am focused.

HANNITY: That's fair.

SANFORD: But what I've learned in life, you should never say never and a lot of strange doors open or close in life.

HANNITY: All right. Governor, thanks for being with us. And good job on the stimulus and thanks for being ahead of the curve.

SANFORD: My pleasure. Take care.

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