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Colbert-Busch tries to define herself as more than comedian's sister

Elizabeth Colbert-Busch released her first television ad of the general election this morning. The video reflects her efforts to brand herself as an independent businesswoman in a race against troubled former Republican Gov. Mark Sanford in a solidly conservative congressional district. 

She promised not to follow the Democratic Party line -- particularly when it comes to deficit reduction.

“We need to get rid of government waste. The deficit is killing jobs,” she said in the ad. “My only pledge is to do what’s right for you.”

The ad continues Colbert-Busch’s efforts to define herself on business issues – and not as famous comedian Stephen Colbert’s older sister.

One of Sanford’s main criticisms of his opponent for the special election for South Carolina's first congressional district, shared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” last week, is her lack of a record for voters to examine.

“Right now, the one thing that people know about her is that she’s Stephen Colbert’s sister,” he said. “At the end of the day, he is not on the ticket, and we’re going to have a debate about ideas.”

As both campaigns advance beyond personal history, Sanford moved yesterday afternoon to challenge what became the focus of Colbert-Busch’s TV spot today: her commitment to deficit reduction and business savvy.

He suggested on a visit to Lyerly’s Cleaners in Mount Pleasant that one of Colbert-Busch’s signature projects at Clemson University is an example of government waste. He said that the Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing project, which received more than $43 million in Stimulus funds, only “created or saved” 134 jobs at a cost of $320,000 per position.

“I believe a key difference in this race is going to be whether one believes it is small business that drives the economy, or whether one believes it is government borrowing that does so,” he said.

Colbert-Busch emphasizes her role in the project on the home page of her campaign site, under the headline of “proven business development.” She also stresses her commitment to small business in an economic policy statement on the site.

“The project [the Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing project] is still under construction and studies show the wind power industry in South Carolina is projected to create as many as 20,000 jobs,” she said in a statement yesterday in response to the Sanford comment.

Recovery.gov, a database created to monitor Stimulus grants, projects that the wind turbines venture will create a total of 852 jobs during the period of the proposal.