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CNN's Inside Politics - Transcript

Location: Columbia, SC


HEADLINE: Safe Return of Elizabeth Smart Seen as Proof AMBER Works; Bush Backing Down on Call for Key U.N. Members to Vote on Resolution

GUESTS: Tom Smart, Amber Smart, Jennifer Dunn, Mark Sanford, Bay Buchanan, Donna Brazile

BYLINE: Judy Woodruff, Jeanne Meserve, Jonathan Karl, Suzanne Malveaux, William Schneider, Bruce Morton

Governor Sanford joins me now from Columbia, South Carolina.

Governor, good to see you again.

GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Great to hear your voice, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Governor, you initially said back in December you didn't think you wanted to do this. You thought you were going to have to not fulfill your military commitment. Now you are. What changed your mind?

SANFORD: Really just a whole lot of soul-searching.

Neither choice, from a logistical standpoint, is ideal, because you have these huge new responsibilities as a governor. And yet, when you really went to sort of push comes to shove, the core principle is that I think everybody in America ought to serve. I happen to be one of those that really think we ought to reinstate the draft, that, again, everybody ought to be vested in the American system.

And we've done an amazing job in America disconnecting the rights that go with being American from the responsibilities that go with being American. So, at the end of the day, I decided, yes, I do have some bigger responsibilities right now. But so does every other reservist. And so I have to serve in any way that they call me and will be doing these two weeks come 10 days from now.

WOODRUFF: You're obviously in a special situation because you're the governor, one of 50 governors of a state. If your unit were called—and you're in the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron of the Air Force Reserves.

SANFORD: Correct.

WOODRUFF: If you were called up for active duty, would you go?

SANFORD: I possibly would.

And that was the real question. There were, I guess, a couple of logistical cities that we had to cross. One was a constitutional question on dual-office holding. The other was a logistical question, because, in a technical sense, as a governor, you actually become a commander of a synch for each one of the different states that is out there.

But we cleared through all that. And the core principle, again, was the notion that everybody ought to serve, if they're called. That's the notion of the reserve system. It's not you deciding what's best, but rather the Air Force or the Army or the Navy deciding, we need you and here's where you ought to go.

And so, as a core principle, I thought it very important. And I also thought it, frankly, important as a father, because it goes back to the notion of duty. And what kind of signal do you want to send your kids if, when they call you, you say, no, I got this bigger responsibility? We've done that route, which is in essence what was done in Vietnam, when people had an option to get a medical degree or a law degree.

That child wouldn't go, but the poor kid from Allendale who didn't, frankly, have those educational options, they were the one that was sent to Vietnam. And I think we need to get away from that as a country.

WOODRUFF: Two very quick questions: One is some speculation about your leaving South Carolina in the hands of a relatively inexperienced 33-year-old part-time lieutenant governor. Are you comfortable about that?

SANFORD: Yes. I mean, Andre will do a great job. We've got a great team in place in terms of my chief of staff, our team in place, my wife, Jenny, who you met on occasion when I was up in Washington, is very capable, will handle some of the ceremonial things that I would have done. I think our team will be able to handle it just fine.

WOODRUFF: And last question: What are you going to be doing? And do you think you're physically fit to go off and fight if you have to?

SANFORD: I'm not the tip of the spear. The fighters are the tip of the spear. I'm at the bureaucrat level, where I'm a pen pusher.

It's interesting, though. With this training, they're going to start us every morning at 5:00 in the morning and finish at about 7:00 in the evening. And the standing bet in the office is, frankly, against me being able to make it. I think I'll be able to make it and I think I'll be just fine. But to suggest that I'm Rambo, I'm not. That's what's neat about the reserve system. There are a lot of different needs that are out there, some requiring intense physical training, others not. I happen to be in the others-not category.

WOODRUFF: All right, Governor Mark Sanford, maybe we'll talk to you after you've been through it and you can tell us what it was really like.

All right, good to see you.

SANFORD: All right.

WOODRUFF: We thank you for talking to us. Appreciate it.

SANFORD: Take care.

WOODRUFF: Heading off in 10 days, he is, for the Air Force Reserves.

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