WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - Laughs weren't uncommon in the auditorium of Porter Gaud School as former Governor Mark Sanford and Curtis Bostic went head-to-head in front of 400 voters. The first issue was a local one concerning federal dollars for Charleston's ports.
"We have one of the most efficient ports in the United States," Bostic said. "We should be proud of that. It drives the engine of our economy locally, and it's fully appropriate that our federal government be involved in the deepening of it."
"This is not a Charleston issue," Sanford said. "This is not even a South Carolina issue. This is an issue of how do we fund infrastructure that is vital to imports and exports, which are vital to the United States."
About one hour into the debate, the moderator turned the talk to Sanford's 2009 disappearing act, calling it the "elephant in the room."
"The events of 2009 absolutely represent a failure on my part for which there were and always will be, at some level, consequences," Sanford said.
"The Governor, being the candidate facing the Democrat, we will lose this seat and lose it needlessly because of this issue of trust," Bostic said.
And as far as when Sanford's fiance will make an appearance, it's still not clear.
"Voters and media alike are dying to see your fiance. When will she make a public appearance with you?" the moderator asked.
"When she wants to," Sanford said.
Another debate is scheduled for Monday in Hilton Head. The run-off election is on Tuesday.
While Bostic and Sanford debated, the lone Democrat in the race, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, attended a fundraiser for Veterans on Deck at the Charleston Yacht Club.
The non-profit helps veterans cope with the psychological wounds of war by learning how to sail, a cause Busch praised.
Busch admitted she will be closely watching Tuesday's Republican runoff.
She said her brother, famous comedian Stephen Colbert, has backed her candidacy strongly, but said her 92-year-old mom has been her greatest mentor throughout the campaign.
"She was born on November the 6, women were allowed to have their first vote that week, and I took my mother to vote for me on March the 19," said Busch. "Especially for me, when I was 6 years old and my mother held my hand so I could go see John Kennedy, who was going to be the President of the United States, and then about 52 years later she held my hand again when we went to vote."