May 8, 2013 at 8:09 AM ET
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford may have been ridiculed by Democrats and largely abandoned by his own Republican party, but he insisted Wednesday that he'll find people to work with when he heads back to Capitol Hill.
“I’ll have plenty of friends in Washington, D.C.,” the newly elected congressman told TODAY’s Matt Lauer.
“I look forward to working, whether its Republicans, Democrats, Independents — you name it, a whole host of different folks in terms of trying to accomplish things that better people’s lives here in the first congressional district and frankly turn the tide with regard to spending up in Washington, D.C.”
Sanford on Tuesday defeated Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch to regain the U.S. House seat he once held. He did so by winning a crowded Republican primary and then fighting his way into the national spotlight after an extramarital affair in 2009 sent his political career spiraling.
Sanford had been a rising star in the Republican party when he was famously caught lying, telling constituents he was hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was actually visiting his mistress in Argentina. He is now engaged to the woman, a television reporter for whom he divorced his previous wife.
“I think this idea of redemption at large and political redemption, I guess, in specific, is a process of each day at a time,” he said. “Each day you go out try to earn folks’ trust. I let a lot of folks down back in 2009, and yet I’ve been on a remarkable personal journey since then and I hope that my life will reflect that going forward.”
Sanford rejected the idea that voters sent him back to Capitol Hill to be part of a national redemption story. Instead, he said he won voters over because of his track record as a fiscal conservative.
“I think I have some rather well-worn credentials, if you will, from the standpoint of watching out for their pocketbook or their wallet, and I think that’s something people care about,” he said. “At the end of the day, people care about how politics impact their lives … I don’t know that I’d read that much into the tea leaves with regard to my personal life.”
But his personal life continues to make headlines, including stories about his upcoming court appearance to battle a trespassing charge filed by his ex-wife.
Sanford said he simply went to her home so that their son wouldn’t have to watch the Super Bowl game alone.
“It’s a much more complex story than meets the eye,” he said.