South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford left the Governor’s Mansion on Friday to visit with his family in Florida, his office said.
Sanford departed the mansion, where he has spent much of the last 48 hours, in the passenger seat of a state vehicle. The Republican governor will spend the Fourth of July holiday weekend with his wife and their four boys. “The Sanford family asks members of the media to respect their privacy while they are together this weekend,” his spokesman said in a statement Thursday. “The Sanfords also hope to take a longer family vacation toward the end of July.” After disappearing for nearly a week, Sanford admitted last week that he’d been in Argentina with his mistress. His admission followed days of confusion over his whereabouts. His staff had said the governor was hiking the Appalachian Trail, and his wife had told reporters she did not know where he was. He later revealed to The Associated Press that he’d seen his mistress several times in the past year and that he’d also “crossed lines” with other women.
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Jenny Sanford released a statement Thursday calling Sanford’s actions “inexcusable,” but she left the door open to reconciling with her husband. She said that although she is willing to forgive her husband, “it is up to the people and elected officials of South Carolina to decide whether they will give Mark another chance as well.” “Actions have consequences, and he will be dealing with those consequences for a long while. Trust has been broken and will need to be rebuilt. Mark will need to earn back that trust, first and foremost with his family, and also with the people of South Carolina,” she said in a statement. “The real issue now is one of forgiveness. I am willing to forgive Mark for his actions. We have been deeply disappointed in and even angry at Mark.” Her statement came shortly after it was announced that a review of the governor’s travel records showed no misuse of public funds in his travels. Sanford already paid back the state for the Argentina leg of a state-funded missions trip last year because he saw the woman he had an affair with on that trip. “Mark showed a lack of judgment in his recent actions as governor. However, his far more egregious offenses were committed against God, the institutions of marriage and family, our boys and me. Mark has stated that his intent and determination is to save our marriage and to make amends to the people of South Carolina,” Jenny Sanford said. In the week after Mark Sanford admitted to his affair, nearly half of South Carolina’s 27 Republican state senators called on him to step down. Despite the growing chorus, Sanford has no plans to step aside, his office said Thursday. “He remains committed and determined to repair the damage he has done in his marriage and to building back the trust of the people of South Carolina,” his office said. Republican strategist and CNN contributor Bill Bennett said that politically Sanford, once a rising star for the GOP, is “a dead man walking.” Bennett joins calls for Sanford’s ouster “He is embarrassing himself. There is the old notion of indecent exposure — usually that refers to somebody showing some skin they shouldn’t — and there’s another form of indecent exposure: He is telling us way too much,” he said. Watch Bennett discuss the political drama »
Bennett also suggested that the GOP can easily fill the gap Sanford would leave. “We have other people,” he said. “We have other people who are not only fiscally interesting and sound but also can keep their lives together.”