Gov. Sanford Adds Details About Affair
DAVID GREENE, host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford spent last week apologizing. This week, he's speaking of love - his love, that is, for the Argentine woman with whom he's had an affair. In a long interview with the Associated Press, Sanford described the relationship as, quote, "a forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day."
Sanford admitted yesterday to seeing his Argentine girlfriend more times than he'd said and that, in his words, he'd crossed the line with other women during his marriage. The revelations did little to bolster the governor's efforts to stay in office.
NPR's Adam Hochberg joins us from the state capitol, Columbia.
ADAM HOCHBERG: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: Tell us more about what the governor said yesterday.
HOCHBERG: It really was, I think it's fair to say, a quite unusual interview. He talked for more than three hours over the course of a couple of days with reporters from the Associated Press and spoke in a great deal of detail about his affair. He's described multiple meetings he had with his girlfriend over the past year, some of them in Argentina where she lives, some of them in New York.
He also admitted to having inappropriate relationships with other women during the 20 years he's been married, though he says he didn't go as far in those relationships as he did in the most recent one.
And in some comments that have really taken some people aback in South Carolina, the governor called his girlfriend his soul mate, and he described his affair as what he called, a love story. He said he's trying to reconcile with his wife, but he really left little doubt, Renee, that his heart is with the other woman.
MONTAGNE: Well, you have to wonder why the governor keeps giving interviews.
HOCHBERG: It's certainly unusual, isn't it?
(Soundbite of laughter)
HOCHBERG: We've seen a lot of politicians confess to a lot of affairs in the past several years. And usually, they'll give one interview or hold a single news conference and then they disappear for a while. But Governor Sanford held a news conference a week ago today, the first news conference where he admitted the affair. Then he took more questions from the press on Friday. Then he did it again on Monday. Then he sat for this two-day Associated Press interview.
He seems to believe that the more he talks about the situation, the more he describes his innermost thoughts and feelings, maybe the more sympathy and support he'll get from the public.
MONTAGNE: And what has been the reaction in South Carolina?
HOCHBERG: Well, we can't really say that it's helped him much. The reaction has gotten harsher and harsher. When he first admitted the affair last week, the reaction from a lot of people around the state, and especially Sanford's fellow Republicans, was somewhat muted, for the most part mild condemnation, well wishes for him and his family.
But as more and more revelations have come out from the governor himself, the criticism has gotten much louder. We're now at the point where several Republicans have called on him to resign, including a lot of legislative leaders. The state Democratic Party is now openly mocking him. They put out a YouTube video yesterday. And the Republican attorney general has now requested a law enforcement investigation of whether Sanford has done anything illegal.
Investigators at this point, we should say, say they have not found anything that's broken the law. But it's safe to say that the governor is facing more heat with each passing day.
MONTAGNE: Although he doesn't seem to be showing any signs of preparing to step down.
HOCHBERG: He is saying that he is going to serve out his term. He's got 18 months left in his second term. He says he wants to rebuild his reputation, show that he's repentant for what he did. Yesterday, a brief statement from his office: The governor is determined to stay in office and continue the work of this administration.
MONTAGNE: Let's say, though, he does change his mind. What would happen in South Carolina if Sanford does step down?
HOCHBERG: Well, the short answer, of course, is that the lieutenant-governor would take over. The long answer is it would throw next year's elections into turmoil. Sanford can't run again. He's term-limited.
But there is a very crowded field of candidates lining up for his job, including the lieutenant-governor, including the attorney general who's called for the law enforcement investigation, including several of the state legislators of both parties who are calling for the governor to step down.
There is an awful lot of political strategizing and calculating going on here in South Carolina, with regards not only to the future of Governor Sanford but also the question of who will be elected governor next year.
MONTAGNE: Well, we'll be staying tuned. Thanks very much, Adam.
HOCHBERG: You're welcome.
MONTAGNE: NPR's Adam Hochberg, speaking to us from the state capitol, Columbia, South Carolina.
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