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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with Ron Paul; Interview with former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford

Aired August 15, 2011 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, the congressman who has been called the intellectual godfather of the Tea Party, a man who came in second but just barely to Michele Bachmann in the Ames straw poll this weekend.

Joining me now is Republican Ron Paul.

Ron Paul, you're the most un-talked about contender today after this weekend I can ever remember. You should be getting as many headlines as Michele Bachmann. You nearly beat her. Yet, ultimately, the media seem completely obsessed with her and not obsessed with you.

Why is that?

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I should be asking you. You're part of the media. It's the media that picks and chooses. I should ask the media.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: I thought you are. I make you my favorite. I put you on my show.

PAUL: I'm looking for an explanation, too.

But, you know, my supporters are convinced they're afraid of me. They don't want my views out there. They're too dangerous.

They -- we want freedom, and we're challenging the status quo. We want to end the war. We want a gold standard.

And they are views that the people just can't handle. They can't handle all this freedom. They want dependency and socialism and welfarism.

So, I think they don't like to hear our views. But I think we'll make the best of it and we'll do very well. I think that the Internet is still alive and well. And programs like yours will still have me on.

MORGAN: Well, we certainly will because it's a fascinating part of the preliminary stage, if you like of the election battle.

What do you think of Michele Bachmann? She clearly thinks that she has a chance now of becoming the nominee. What is your view?

PAUL: Well, she does. Her name is on the ballot. She did very well in a straw poll. And she does identify with, you know, some independent-thinking people. She does not want to be seen as status quo and the establishment.

So, I know her well. And we've been friends. I just disagree with her views because I don't think she is that far from the status quo as I would like her to be. And I would like this country to be.

So her views are quite different on personal civil liberties and different on foreign policy. And therefore they will be different on personal liberty and spending habits as well.

MORGAN: I mean, a lot of Democrats are putting it about today that Michele Bachmann and you are threats and should be taken seriously. You're dangerous. That normally means a coded language for -- they would love you both to do well because it will rip the Republicans in half and probably guarantee President Obama wins the next election.

PAUL: Well, I don't know. I'm not too frightened about that. I think I do very well with the independents and, you know, even your own station there when you do polling, I come out either first or second against Obama.

So I think the Democrats fear me. You know, when they try to pick who they want to run against, when the Democrat picks, they said, well, we fear mostly Jon Huntsman. That's who we fear.

They never bring up the fact that I would slash into Obama's civil libertarian viewpoints. He doesn't really follow through on belief on personal liberties. He does not, you know, support ending the wars. He expanded the wars.

So, the progressive base has really left Obama. So I think the establishment that doesn't want the status quo challenged would be most opposed to me.

And, quite frankly, the leadership in both parties are very supportive of the wars, they're very supportive of the Federal Reserve. They're very supportive of the entitlement system.

So, therefore, both media and party-wise, they would be very, very nervous about us getting the expression of support that we have got. And they want to squelch it if they can.

So, I don't think it's unusual. I've been used to. This has been going on for a long time. This is nothing that is actually new.

Sometimes I am very pleased with the progress we're making, and when we can win a poll, essentially tied in this poll in Iowa, I think it shows great strength for our viewpoints and for our campaign.

MORGAN: I mean, tell me this. I mean, you're 75 years old now. You served 12 terms in Congress. You've had two unsuccessful runs at the White House.

And yet, perversely, despite all that, you actually have arrived at a position now where your views are more and more in line, I would imagine, with many average Americans. They are fed up with Washington behavior. They can see that there is a need to cut spending dramatically.

I would imagine most Americans would begin to think that the troops should come out of Afghanistan and Iraq as well.

This could be your time, couldn't it, Ron? It might be your last chance.

PAUL: I would -- I would think we do have a very good chance.

But I usually summarize this when I'm at the rallies where we have good turnouts. And I get a lot of applause. Freedom is popular. People like to be free -- especially when they see the failure of government.

That's why so many people are coming our way, even those who would like these government programs, that depend on governments, they realize we're flat-out broke. This is one of the reasons why we're getting support on ending these wars. Even if they say, well, we need to be over there, we need to fill the vacuum, we're afraid things are going to happen.

But they know we can't afford it. We have to borrow the money to fight these wars. And they're talking about starting new ones all the time. We can't keep up with this.

So, this is very popular with young people, especially. Freedom is a fantastic idea. When you see the failure of government, we become more popular. Our views become more prevalent, and we are more mainstream than ever before.

And the most magnificent thing is they have understood, you know, exactly how we pay for this. We don't -- we can't tax enough. We can't borrow enough.

So, more and more people are understanding the Federal Reserve has something to do with this. Oh, you mean they print this money? The money is not backed by anything? People are shocked.

And then when you find out a third of the $15 trillion they pumped into the economy went to foreigners, some might have even gone to the British banks for all we know, you know?

So, no, people are upset because they don't like to see the rich bailed out, the middle class shrunk and the poor losing their house. That's what they're fed up about.

And the Austrian free market school of economics explains it. We predicted it would happen. And believe me, the people are waking up to that fact. MORGAN: Let me put this to you, Ron, because you're a charismatic guy. You did very well in this straw poll. It doesn't mean an awful lot. But it's an indicator that you have a popular vote there. You nearly won it.

What I hear about you is: very experienced, charismatic, people like you. But the thing that holds you back is when you stray into extremity. You know, they don't like the fact you're so completely opposed to any foreign aid. They don't like the fact you want to legalize heroin.

Many people don't like your total intransigence over any tax increase, especially when you have someone like Warren Buffett saying, come on, hit the super rich harder.

People don't like your intransigence over abortion, for example, where you don't believe even if someone is rape that they should be allowed an abortion.

Are you prepared at this moment when everyone is wondering which way the Republicans are going to go -- are you prepared on some of these more extreme lines you have taken to soften, to moderate, to, in short, make yourself more electable?

PAUL: Well, why should somebody soften their viewpoint on defending the rule of law and defending the Constitution? That would be foolish.

I think extremists are in charge. They have been in charge especially for the last 40 years, since they've been allowed to print money at will. So, that's why we've extended ourselves overseas. That's why we have runaway spending with our entitlement system. That's why we the inflation, depression, recessions, all these things. That is so extreme.

This idea that you have, you know, a couple of trillion, this year, our entitlements and debt have obligated our people to $5 trillion. And they think I'm extreme? I mean, this is weird.

And oh, no, we'll just print up the money, you know, and everybody will be wealthy. But, unfortunately, they give out the money and it goes to the wealthy people. The poor get poorer. That is weird.

You know, well, it's really bad. It's bad economics. It's bad morality. It doesn't conform with our Constitution.

And the people know this. They're really waking up to this. And this seems to be -- most people come up to me and say, what you say is common sense. It's not like I'm spouting off some extreme position.

MORGAN: Hang on. Hang on. Ron, hang on a second.

PAUL: Yes?

MORGAN: I don't think people are rushing up to you on the streets of America saying legalize heroin. That's common sense, are they?

PAUL: No. And in fairness to me, I've never used the word "heroin" once in a campaign ever in 30 years. Though somebody in the media says, oh, no, we're going to interpret what he said. This might mean he would allow the states to do such and such.

All I'm saying is people want to have freedom of choice, just as you have freedom of choice in your First Amendment rights, picking and choosing what you do and say on TV. I just think personal choices.

I mean, I usually use the example of personal choices to say why is it that the federal government comes down with a SWAT team to arrest people who drink raw milk? You know, what has happened in this country?

So, I never use the drug as an example because I know how people demagogue it.

But it is true, you know, there was a time in our history a time not too long ago, there were no federal laws against marijuana in 1937 and before that. So, this is rather new. We have spent a $1 trillion on the war on drugs, and it hasn't done one thing except enhance the drug dealers.

So this idea you can take my philosophy -- and I'm not accusing you of doing it, but others have -- take my philosophy and say, oh, Ron Paul, his philosophy is he's going to legalize heroin. You know? That is a distortion.

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: Pardon me?

MORGAN: If you're such a protagonist for people's choice and freedom of choice, why are you so implacably opposed to same-sex marriage and to any form of abortion under any circumstance? That's not supporting choice, it is?

PAUL: I think you're mixed up. I'm against the marriage amendment and I believe people can do what they want. I don't want the government involved in marriage. Anybody can do what they want and call it whatever they want. They shouldn't force their will on other people.

On abortion, I just recognition as a physician and scientist that life does exist prior to birth. There is a legal right to it and there is a biological definition of it. And most people don't think about it, that if you say the woman has a right to do what she wants with her body and what is in her body, that means that an eight-pound baby a month before birth can be destroyed and the doctor be paid for it.

There is something awfully bizarre about a society that says oh, that's OK because it's a woman's body. And every argument for all abortion endorses the principle that you can take that life and abort it and kill it. And I had to witness this. It's very, very disturbing.

So I think that somebody has to speak for the meek and the small. And they do have legal rights. If you're in a car accident and a woman's pregnant and her baby dies, you're -- this is homicide. You've committed a very serious crime. You killed a life.

So, this whole thing that is simple to woman's right to do what she wants with her own body -- no, you have to deal with the fact. You have to decide is there a real life there? And there is a real life there.

I'm liable as a physician. If a woman comes in and if she's a week pregnant or 10 months, pregnant, or was eight, nine months pregnant -- if I do something wrong, rightfully, so I can be liable for injuring the fetus. So, if I give her the wrong medication, I'm liable for this.

To pretend that life doesn't exist, that's like putting blinders on.

And I don't talk a whole lot about it. But I've made the emphasis the other day that if you truly care about liberty, you have to understand life because how can I defend a woman's or any individual's right to lead their own life as they choose and even do dumb things and drink raw milk or whatever they want to do, at the same time say that life is not precious?

And we can throw away a life even if it weighs eight pounds because it's within the woman's body.

I believe in property rights. I believe that a baby in a crib deserves protection, even though I honor property. And a house is our castle.

But nobody, nobody would say oh, a woman after the baby's born, we can kill it. And today, we have this -- all these abortions. But if a young girl is in a desperate situation and she happens to deliver her baby and kills it, she is arrested immediately. But if she had done it a day before, there was no crime and the doctor gets paid money.

That -- even if you divorce this all from the law and enforcement of law, but morality. Our society has to decide whether that's morally right or wrong in dealing with this.

I have high respect for life. Therefore I have high respect for liberty. And it's hard to separate the two.

MORGAN: Or, Ron, you've made your point very forcefully, as always. With lots of people watching who vehemently disagree with you. But that is the beauty of a democracy. And I appreciate you joining me.

PAUL: Thank you. Good to be with you.

MORGAN: Coming up, the man who once had hopes of his own White House run, former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Mark Sanford is a man who knows the Republican Party from the inside, and he knows how fast things can change in politics. The former governor of South Carolina was once talked about as a presidential candidate. That was before his affair, his divorce and his departure from the governor's mansion.

Now, after two years, Mark Sanford going public again. And he joins me now.

Welcome.

MARK SANFORD (R), FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: My pleasure.

MORGAN: First, the obvious first question is: why are you doing this interview? What would you hope to gain from this?

SANFORD: I can't hammer nails for the rest of my life. I've been down at the farm you all were kind enough to come visit. And you get to this point where it's comfortable to be, it's time to begin speaking out again on issues that I've cared about for 20 years of my life.

You don't invest 20 years of your politics if you don't really, really care. And I care deeply. I'm very worried about the direction of our country. I think if we don't watch out, we could lose it.

You know, Benjamin Franklin's famous words were basically handing you a republic if you can keep it. And I think we're at a really, really precarious point, the likes of which people don't fully grasp or understand.

MORGAN: I mean, in a way, you were the very first kind of leader of the Tea Party before it was formed into a proper revolutionary party. When you have seen what's happened to America, and you have seen the emergence of the Tea Party as a proper formidable political force, do you feel a slight twinge of regret that you're not at the forefront of this?

SANFORD: You know, I don't think that there's a lot to be gained from the might-have-beens, to the would-have-beens, to the could-have- beens of life. But I want to do think is there is an amazing and real fuel with the Tea Party that I don't think people fully grasp.

But I think a lot of people simply say that's about spending. But I think it's really about much, much deeper American values. One is fundamental angst about opportunity.

You know, the beauty of the American system is that it provides opportunity. And there is this long-held belief that I did so well, my kids are going to do better than that, my grandkids are going to do better than that. I think that part of the fuel that has fuelled the Tea Party has been people really calling that into question.

So, I don't know if that's really true for my kids. I don't know if they're going to do better than I am.

And I think the other part, and I saw this during the stimulus debate. I spoke out vociferously against the stimulus when it first came out. I was the first governor to formally reject it. What I saw then was people genuinely concerned about the issue of equity. The glue that holds us together as Americans, as disparity as we might be is the belief that it's a fair system.

You know, you work hard, you'll succeed or fail based on this idea of meritocracy. And what I saw --

MORGAN: What did you think --

SANFORD: -- I saw people calling that in question because what they're saying to me was there is someone who has a beach house in the Hamptons who is getting bailout. Meanwhile, my cousin who runs a little pizza shop, he ain't getting bailout there. And there was this genuine question about opportunity.

MORGAN: But do you agree then with Warren Buffett when he said today that the tax system has to be reformed to hammer people like him more, the super rich who are paying a disproportionate amount of tax and their total tax rates compared to the guy on the street?

SANFORD: I would say I absolutely believe in the notion of tax reform. We need either a fair tax or a flat tax, a much simpler form.

I think that Warren Buffett was terribly misleading with what he said. I think at two different levels. One is, you know, he was basically looking at capital gains tax, 15 percent. What he is not including is the fact that he also owns the company. And so, there is a corporate tax of 35 percent. We effectively have the highest corporate rate in the world.

And so, you combine and you're about at 50 percent. So, he wasn't including the corporate tax.

The other thing that is really misleading is that Berkshire Hathaway, his company, doesn't pay dividends. It's all based on capital appreciation.

What's the tax on non-recognized gains in America? Zero.

So, he doesn't need the current cash flow like his secretary or somebody else might. He can make millions and millions of dollars on a daily basis, get no tax because it's appreciating assets.

MORGAN: Which of the Republicans at the moment -- and we're seeing a clear pattern beginning to emerge, Romney, Bachmann, Perry and so on. Who do you think fundamentally has what it takes in the overall package to seriously challenge Barack Obama?

SANFORD: I think that the primary system will winnow that out.

MORGAN: What is your gut feeling? You're a smart political mind. What would you say? SANFORD: Well, you know, you're trying to get me to pick a horse and I don't want to do that.

MORGAN: Well, I'm saying you're in the paddock, and these horses are being shown around.

SANFORD: Yes.

MORGAN: What is an early feeling you're getting for who could beat him?

SANFORD: How about this? What I would say is I think there are a couple of attributes that the American public is in search of. One is Paul Ryan's sort of technical expertise of the budget.

A lot of time, platitudes are talked about in terms of ooh, we're going to cut spending, or we're going to reform taxes. I think that the beauty of the Ryan budget, whether you agree or disagree with it, was it was very specific in nature. And I think we're at that point given the overall crisis that I see coming our way wherein we need specifics.

MORGAN: But I thought you say that you'd like to have a kind of hybrid of him and someone like Chris Christie, who I spent a day with. And I found him very impressive.

SANFORD: Yes.

MORGAN: But he made it pretty clear he wasn't going to run this time. Do you believe him? Do you think he is persuadable as we get through the next few months and we're heading towards the first proper primary, could you see him rallying to the cause of the party if no one has emerged by then that people don't think could beat Obama?

SANFORD: Well, I think that there's talk of that still happening. But all I'm saying is I'm listing attributes, whether it's him or, you know, Rick Perry. I think the attributes, I think -- you know, you go down the list, each one has their different attributes.

I think the two things most needed at this point given the fact that we've got $57 trillion in contingent liability in this country, given the fact that we have a real issue with competitiveness is real earnest plain-spokenness on how bad our problem is, because the American public I think can handle it. But I think they need to be really educated and the plain facts need to be laid out in terms of how really desperate our situation is.

MORGAN: Presumably, you would lean more towards a Tea Party nominee than you would towards one of the more moderate type like a Romney?

SANFORD: Absolutely, yes.

MORGAN: So is Michele Bachmann the one in that case? Is she the obvious person now beginning to capture enough of the public's imagination to potentially be that person?

SANFORD: No. I don't think you could look at it that simplistically. I think that, you know, Ron Paul, who was just on, has a huge Tea Party backing. I think that Rick Perry has really excited folks with, you know, across both social and financial circles in terms of he is sort of a hybrid between the Bachmann and perhaps Romney. So I think that there are a couple different folks out there vying for a Tea Party.

And what I will say is that whoever really captures it, I suspect will be the Republican nominee.

MORGAN: I mean, I don't want you to necessarily name someone if you're not ready to.

SANFORD: Yes.

MORGAN: But of those names, of the three, you know, which one if you had to put one in the race tomorrow?

SANFORD: I'm not going to pick a horse. But I will say. Let me go back to the reason I'm on this show, which is I think we're looking at a global depression coming our way. And I think our ability to survive as a republic will be determined by how we respond.

Historically, and I think thus far, we have gotten in essence prescription wrong. And if we continue to apply that wrong prescription, I think we'll see hyperinflation that could very well cause us to lose the republic.

MORGAN: We'll get a little break. When we come back, I want to take you back to the scandal that led to you not being center stage now, and get your feelings now with reflection on what happened.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANFORD: There was so much destruction in the last chapter of my life that I really wanted to build from that. I wanted to construct something. And particularly, I wanted to do something like that with my boys.

And so, I think that there was -- I don't know something of a healing process that went with building this and the other structures that marked my summer.

The thing that I think anybody thinks about who's failed at some level, whether one fails in their marriage, whether one fails in finances, whether one fails in any chapter of life, which is, you know, God, how do you use me in the next chapter of life? Will there be a next chapter? What would I do? What it is that I can do wherein I use with the limited talents that I have to some meaningful purpose and to some good?

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: A candid Mark Sanford last week at a private retreat where he lives now.

Mark, I mean, you've been kicked all over the place, publicly humiliated, trashed by the media, trashed by almost everybody. You know, you're public enemy number one in politics for that period. You have been followed by others.

The cycle moves on. Others fall down. They get kicked, too.

What was the experience like for you on a human level? Because you're not the caricature that we all read about. You're the guy -- I think you're honest enough to say in an interview that, you know, you used to pick up papers and say, "You idiot," other people who had done what you had done.

Suddenly you're that guy. How does that feel?

SANFORD: It's humbling. I often said -- we were just speaking a moment ago, and I said to you very candidly that I've done thousands of interviews back through Congress and through the governorship. And I was never one moment afraid. It was we could agree or disagree on an issue, but we were where we were.

Now as you step back out, because I think I need to do my best, as best I can, in warning the country on what I think is coming our way if we don't change direction -- you still walk out scared. I've never been scared before. But I'm a little frightened inside.

And I think it is because you go through that two-year process, which was rather glaring. And you don't want to disappoint anybody. You know that you let a lot of people down. And there was a whole lot of anxiety that comes with an interview there, for thinking on how you might let somebody down. And you don't want to do that.

MORGAN: Looking back on it, you're still with the woman that you left your wife for, an Argentinean, Maria Belen Chapur. Proving I guess that this wasn't just a short-term fling. You didn't throw everything away for nothing. That there is a love story there. Given that, do you feel great regret, or is that the wrong emotion to put to you?

SANFORD: Well, I think that -- I mean, anybody who has been married doesn't start at the beginning thinking boy, I hope I some day get divorced. I hope that some day the train comes off the track. So there's got to be regret. There is something sacred about a family unit, about boys.

I have four boys. You have some boys. And anything that brings harm to your boys, you have genuine regret about. I think that part of the journey for me over the last couple of years has been, you know, first professionally, in the wake of the whole storm. You know, there is a question do you just quit and walk out of there and never see another camera again, which would have been by far the easiest thing to do.

MORGAN: You didn't do. You stuck it out.

SANFORD: Yeah. And professionally, can we somehow make some good of this. Because what people were telling me at the ground level was, Mark, you messed up. You disappointed us, but you finished strong. So we tried as best we could. And we had actually the most productive legislative year that we had in all eight years during the last year.

In a personal sense, you hope that you learn from it.

MORGAN: What do you think you have learned about yourself?

SANFORD: I think learned a lot. As you were joking a moment ago, I never publicly judged, but privately I judged. I think we're all prone to do so. And you read the paper and indeed say, loser, loser, idiot, moron.

MORGAN: You voted for the impeachment of Bill Clinton over Monica Lewinsky, for example.

SANFORD: So I think now you look at things and you sort of say by the grace of God go I, I'm going to work about the log in my own eye before I worry about the splinter in somebody else's. I've learned a lot about grace. There is just a phenomenal level of human grace that's out there, which is a reminder I think of God's grace.

MORGAN: How has the public been with you?

SANFORD: They're incredible. Again, you know, people would come up and say look, you're human. You're going to not get it perfect. So I think it is true, as I was saying just in that clip a moment ago, whether it's a financial mishap, whether it's a personal mishap, we're all going to make mistakes.

I think an old-timer took me aside and said one of the keys is the only real mistake you make in life is the one you don't learn from.

MORGAN: I heard a few weeks ago you had this extraordinary moment in -- I think in the street. A woman just came up to you and said can I give you a hug. You look like you need a hug.

SANFORD: Yeah, yeah. That was actually more than -- that was back in the middle of the storm, where I thought I might be stoned to death if any woman saw me. I was in Sumter, South Carolina. And this big black woman was walking down the street and put her arms out and said you need a hug. I had little choice in the matter. She was bigger than I was.

MORGAN: How did that make you feel?

SANFORD: It was fabulous. I think we all need grace. And we all need love. And there is plenty of judgment to go around. And there is certainly a role by folks in the media and others to be played in getting things uncovered and rights wronged -- or wrongs right. But I think there is an abiding need for human grace and love. And I got it that day on the street. And I've gotten it many times since then with people across my street.

MORGAN: Is it satisfying to you that the relationship has lasted with Maria? Does it give you a sense of you all hammered me at the time thinking I was having some sort of mid-life crisis. But this was actually a real love story. I fell in love.

SANFORD: I did. I said I'm guilty of that. But it still didn't take away from the fact that I certainly handled a whole number of things wrong. There have been consequences for that. And that's something I've had to deal with and hopefully learn from.

MORGAN: What would you do differently?

SANFORD: A whole host of things, none of which are particularly productive in terms of my boys, who might be watching this show. And I hope to respect that.

MORGAN: Would anything have really made much difference?

SANFORD: Yes. I would say a couple of different things. People tend to focus on what goes wrong at the time of an affair or another or whatever. But in reality, that's a long time coming. So really, if you go back ten years earlier, I was doing things wrong in the marriage that caused things to get derailed.

And I think that anybody out there, you know, ought to really think about this notion of fire proofing their marriage, first of all, by having their priorities right. I think as men, we tend at times to define ourselves by what we do. And I think that trying to impact the direction of our country is an incredibly important job.

But it pales in comparison to what I now believe to be my first job, which is to love God with all my heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. If you get that part as true north, a lot of the other is going to take care of itself.

I would say, you know, that I failed in terms of properly loving my wife. A lot of guys will complain my wife doesn't do this, my wife doesn't do that. The reality is -- there was some song I remember back when I was in high school. If you want to get closer to me -- you want me to get closer to me, get closer to me, something along those lines.

And I think that, you know, a guy took me aside, again, in the middle of the storm -- I wish there was a school for this kind of stuff. My dad died -- he got sick when I was in high school, died when I was in college. And you kind of figure it out as best you can.

But I think that I didn't properly love my wife. I think that, you know, fundamental to a woman -- I'm not trying to be a chauvinist here -- is a need for security, whether it's emotional or financial or a nest. If she gets that, she is happy and playful and encouraging. If she doesn't get that, she can be some other things. And core to a guy is a need respect. He may get a job. If he doesn't get the job, he may become a scoutmaster or a little league coach. If you get that dance right between the husband and wife, some really great things happen. If you get ate little off because the husband -- the Bible says the man has to love the wife as Christ loved the church -- isn't doing what he ought to be doing on that front, again, some things can go wrong.

I would blame myself. In other words, the things I've learned, I have said, OK, how do I be a better person going forward. Because I think there were a number of missteps from my end that had much to do with what --

MORGAN: Having got it wrong in your marriage, do you feel like you have learned enough from that whole experience, and the bruising exposure and scandal to get it right now?

SANFORD: I would hope so.

MORGAN: Are you happier in yourself now, do you think?

SANFORD: Oh, yeah. I said to a friend, I have probably have more to offer as a human being than I've ever had in my life. But I probably have a smaller canvas to paint on. And I accept that as a reality. I don't know where life would have gone, but it could well have been that I would have been in the presidential mix, just because I cared deeply about these ideas and have long been talking about them.

I can't control that part. All I can control now is, you know, what do you do going forward. I think that's the challenge of every one of our lives.

MORGAN: Going to take a short break. And I want to come back and talk to you about the life -- the low-key life you've had since all this blew up. What have you been doing? What it's been like, emotionally, physically, getting to a stage now where you feel empowered enough to come back out and talk about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back now with my special guest, Mark Sanford. Watching you there at your farm, South Carolina. And pretty remote place to disappear, I guess. What was it like for you just to vanish from the public eye, get away from the eye of the storm and find yourself in this kind of sanctuary, if you like? Was it easy? Did you feel lonely? How would you describe the experience?

SANFORD: Fabulous. You know, it's a family farm. I grew up there. So all your sort of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn adventures that you remember as a boy with your brothers and your sister were there. And so there are, you know, just an envelope, if you will, of inviting memories from your childhood.

It's been a weird life. I get up early. I go for a swim in the river before sunrise. I watch the day come alive. I go out and hammer nails during the day. It's been therapeutic.

MORGAN: At that moment before the sun -- just as it comes up -- you're on your own. You're watching the sun come up. You would have been in the old days getting ready for another busy day in politics, you know, in your head thinking you know what? I'm only a few steps away from a potential presidency run here.

And now here you are on your own, out of that game, looking at the sun coming up. What are you thinking when you're there?

SANFORD: I think that there is a tremendous value to the valleys of life, that the football team that loses on Friday night probably thinks a whole lot more of what they might get right or what they might do differently than the team that won.

So for me it has been cathartic to go out and build things. Built a bridge with the boys. Built a little sort of shed, built a little hut, if you want to call it that. It's been cathartic. I think -- I said to a friend -- at one point, I had gone out with a backhoe in front of this little barn that I had built where there were some stumps, pulled the stumps out, put them to the side, and then going to burn them.

And I said the beauty of this is once it's done, it's not like the next legislative body is going to come back and put the stumps back in. It's kind of done. So it's been rewarding in that sense.

MORGAN: Unlike modern politics, you can actually get things done and they stay done.

SANFORD: And that's been nice. It's been really, really nice to have the uncluttered time with the boys. I think one of the problems of political life is that you're gone so much.

MORGAN: Have you, in an odd way, had more time now to develop a better relationship with your sons than you may have done if you continued in the ever more punishing political world?

SANFORD: They say so. They say, oddly -- because I get very sentimental, as I suspect divorced dads often do. And they're like dad, what are you talking about? We see you way more than we used to see you. No, no, no, you don't. No, you would have a speech. You would have a this, have a that.

Marshall and I, for instance, spent a week and a half -- he's the oldest -- together working on the first building. And it was magnificent father-son time. That part has been neat. I think the reflection is important. I think that, again, in the valleys of life, you do a whole lot more soul-searching and thinking than you do when you're going from mountaintop to mountaintop.

MORGAN: Who of your family have been the real rocks of support outside of your sons?

SANFORD: I've redeveloped a really neat relationship with my sister. We had it a long time ago. But as you get busy with life, those things can sort of drift to the side. And we've developed a really neat relationship. My brother John and Bill are both close. We took a neat trip together with the boys earlier this summer.

So, you know, my mom is magnificent, just as I guess the case with any mom, unconditional.

MORGAN: My mother has always been incredibly supportive of me through thick and thin. There's been a lot of thick, by the way. How did your mother react to the whole scandal? What did she say to you?

SANFORD: I mean, the obvious in terms of I'm disappointed and here is why. But I think significantly, the but part, which is I still love you, and I love you unconditionally.

MORGAN: Which is a pretty powerful endorsement to have, isn't it?

SANFORD: Important one.

MORGAN: Let's take another short break. I suppose the obvious question when we come back is you're doing interviews again. You're very prominent in your political views now about what is going on. A lot of people thinking is this the start of the Mark Sanford comeback. The answer after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MORGAN: Back now with Mark Sanford. Interesting reaction on Twitter tonight. People -- some people criticizing you, who I think are probably never going to change, about what you did. But others -- "I lived in Columbia when Mark Sanford was governor. I'll say this, he's more human now than I have ever seen him."

Someone else said, watching your interview with Governor Sanford, while I don't agree with what he did, I'm impressed by his candor. Others saying, is this the comeback? You must be tempted, aren't you, to have another go at this?

SANFORD: No. My goal is I want to begin the process of speaking out on things I've cared about for 20 years. That doesn't mean candidacy. , but it means at some level having a voice, have remuted (ph) relative to where it might have been, on the direction of this country.

Because I think we're at a gut check moment in terms of what comes next. A little known Scottish historian studies history for the whole of his life, Sir Alex Francis Taylor. The quote attributed to him at life's end was that a democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always fails in a loose fiscal policy, and it's generally followed by dictatorship.

The average age of the world's great civilizations have been 200 years. these nation's have progressed through this sequence, form bondage to spiritual faith, spiritual faith to great courage, great courage to liberty, liberty to abundance, abundance to selfishness, selfishness to complacency, complacency to apathy, apathy to dependency, and from dependency back again into bondage.

If you look at where we are in terms of context, about 44 percent of all Americans don't file tax returns about. So about 56 percent do. Out of the 56 percent that do, 20 percent are net contributors to the system, and about 80 percent are net recipients. In other words, they may pay 3,000 dollars in taxes, but they may get 12,000 --

MORGAN: If you had the power, what is the one thing you would do to dramatically reform the tax system, which would make a real difference in reducing America's debt?

SANFORD: I don't think it's a question of the tax system. I think it's spending. You look at the first 100 years of this country.

MORGAN: It can't just be cutting spending, can it?

SANFORD: Well, yes.

MORGAN: At some stage, you have to bring in more revenues as well, don't you?

SANFORD: Well, I would argue no.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: In everyone's personal household, if all they did was cut back on all their spending but didn't increase any kind of revenue --

SANFORD: Let's go back to --

MORGAN: -- that wouldn't be how you would balance a domestic household budget.

SANFORD: Understood. But the question would be, how much are you spending relative to how much you spent before. If you look at the first 100 years of this country's existence, we spent, on average, three percent of GDP, and 40 percent was going to defense.

This is sort of the end of a 50-year push where we've really moved upward in terms of overall spending in this country. We're now 25, 28 percent of GDP. I would argue in Thomas Friedman's flat world, for us to be really, really competitive, have you to compete with likes of what's going on in China or Singapore, or a whole host of other places.

And being competitive with a (INAUDIBLE) tax rate, and a whole bunch of other things, is absolutely crucial. So the CBO numbers right now are saying, we're going to move to about 33 percent of GDP, which is to say, with all due respect to the mother countries, to Europe, we're going to move to their rate of growth. If you look at per capita income, we're at about 46,000, 47,000 dollars, in terms of per capita income. If you look in Europe, it's about 30. If you look around the world, it's closer to three. In China, it's about nine. So you give up something as you begin to crowd out private investment and private capitalism.

MORGAN: As you're speaking like this, I'm thinking this guy must be going back into proper politics. He's fed up building buildings on his farm. He's bored with that. He wants to get back in. He's learned lessons. He's a different character

SANFORD: I have certainly learned lessons that will last me the rest of my life.

MORGAN: Let's hold it there. Going to have a little final break and I'll get your answer after this, because I'm still not quite convinced by your answer so far.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: -- the sinner hate the sin. How did you feel about that?

SANFORD: It's true. It's true. I think it's the challenge of faith and grace.

MORGAN: Do you have any plans to remarry?

SANFORD: We'll see.

MORGAN: That's not a denial, Mr. Governor?

SANFORD: Nor is it an answer.

MORGAN: As a tantalizing -- I would read -- if you were a politician saying that about a policy, I would say it's definitely going to happen.

SANFORD: We'll see.

MORGAN: Would it be a nice ending to the saga for you?

SANFORD: I think so.

MORGAN: But you haven't popped the question yet?

You have, haven't you?

SANFORD: No, you're going into -- again that personal sphere that out of respect for my boys --

MORGAN: It wouldn't be the most shocking thing we'd read all year.

SANFORD: We'll see.

MORGAN: It's been a pleasure. Thank you very much.

SANFORD: Thank you.

MORGAN: Good luck with everything.

SANFORD: Appreciate it. Thanks.

MORGAN: That's Mark Sanford. That's us for tonight. Now "AC 360," starting right now.