South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has been in Argentina for the past several days — continuing an affair. Mark Sanford, one of the Republican front-runners for the 2012 presidential election and the focus of a media-generated mystery as to his recent whereabouts, held a press conference Wednesday and admitted that he was engaged in an affair, apologized to his wife and the people of South Carolina, and said he would resign as the Chairman of the Republican Governors Association. A tearful Mark Sanford said that he and his wife had been working through marital difficulties for the past five months and that his family knew of the affair. He had not been hiking on the Appalachian Trail as his staff had believed or away writing as his wife, Jenny, had suggested to the press. He had gone to Argentina for “selfish” reasons, he said, having an affair.
Mark Sanford said, “The bottom line is this: I’ve been unfaithful to my wife. I developed a relationship… with a dear friend from Argentina.” He apologized to his wife and his family. He followed with an apology to the people of South Carolina. He then began apologizing to certain individuals and his staff. Nearly breaking into tears at certain intervals, he talked of the selfishness of his acts in regard to sinful behavior.
Governor Mark Sanford seemingly disappeared last Thursday. His staff and his family did not seem to know exactly where he was or what he might be doing. When Sanford’s vehicle was found at the Atlanta airport, a reporter from The State was waiting when he deplaned from Argentina. Sanford then informed them that he would hold a press conference at 3 p.m. and explain everything.
And that is exactly what he did.
Mark Sanford told reporters that he had met the person he was involved with, a person from Argentina, eight years ago. The affair began after an intense conversation they had engaged in when the governor had attempted to convince her that she should stay with her husband, with whom she was at the time having marital difficulties.
Sanford also announced that he would be resigning as the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, a position he had been elected to in November. He did not, however, say he would resign as governor of South Carolina. During his apology, he mentioned speaking with certain parties to figure out his political future. But two quick questions thrown at the Governor at the press conference’s end — if he planned to resign — went unanswered.
Governor Mark Sanford’s admission to an affair is the second affair to rock the Republican Party in as many weeks. Senator John Ensign of Nevada came forward on June 16, admitting to an affair he had with former campaign aide Cindy Hampton. John Ensign issued a statement later alleging that the legal counsel of Doug Hampton, Cindy Hampton’s husband, had attempted to collect an “exorbitant” amount of money for his client to keep the affair secret.
As for Governor Sanford’s disappearance, many are calling for his resignation or his impeachment. Political opposition point out that he left the state without leadership, abdicating his duties as governor.
Both affairs have shaken the Republican Party in that both Senator John Ensign and Governor Mark Sanford were considered leading contenders for the nomination for president in 2012. CNN reported that the Republican Governor’s Association immediately accepted Governor Sanford’s resignation. With two of the more powerful political frontrunners effectively neutralized as contenders, the field now narrows to a relative handful — unless the GOP can find a dark horse in the mix in the next couple of years, which, given the volatility of political careers, could definitely happen.
It certainly worked for the current president.