There Was a Painfully Awkward Moment During Debate Between Former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, right, shakes hands with Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch during the 1st Congressional District debate on Monday, April 29, 2013 in Charleston, S.C. Credit: AP

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was caught off guard when he was jabbed about his extramarital affair Monday during a debate with Elizabeth Colbert Busch, his Democratic opponent in a special election for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

While discussing sequestration and government spending, Colbert Busch took a shot at Sanford’s trips to Argentina where he visited his mistress while serving as governor of South Carolina.

“When we talk about fiscal spending and we talk about protecting the taxpayers, it doesn’t mean you take that money we saved and leave the country for a personal purpose,” she said, prompting a mix of boos and applause.

“She went there, Gov. Sanford,” the moderator observed.

“I couldn’t hear what she said,” Sanford quickly responded. “Repeat it, I didn’t hear it.”

“Answer the question,” Colbert Busch said.

“What was the question?” Sanford asked again before changing the subject back to the sequester.

It’s theoretically possible that Sanford was the only person in the room who didn’t hear Colbert Busch’s criticism. The other possibility is that he heard her just fine, but figured it was better to avoid the topic altogether.

Watch the awkward exchange via CSPAN/Mediaite below:

“Sanford admitted to lying to cover up an affair in 2009 after no one could locate him for four days. While he did not resign, the affair undid any hope of a 2012 presidential campaign. Whether voters can forgive him for the scandal is a central hurdle to his comeback bid,” the Huffington Post reports.