Calls Grow For Gov. Sanford Resignation
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In South Carolina, a growing number of Governor Mark Sanford's fellow Republicans are calling on him to resign. That's after he revealed more details this week about his extramarital affair and about other women. The Governor said he met his Argentine girlfriend five times in the past year. He also admitted to, in his words, crossing the line with other women during his 20-year marriage, though, he added, not the ultimate line.
From Columbia, South Carolina, NPR's Adam Hochberg reports now on the fallout.
ADAM HOCHBERG: Today has been a rare day out of the spotlight for Governor Sanford after a week in which he conducted press conferences and interviews almost every day. Sanford's staff said the governor spent today in Columbia quietly working, but as he did, he faced growing criticism over his latest admissions, which came this week in an interview with the Associated Press. The Governor conceded he had improper relations with more than one woman and said that while he's trying to save his marriage, he considers his girlfriend from Argentina his soulmate.
Governor MARK SANFORD (South Carolina): This was a whole lot more than a simple affair. It is a love story, a forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story.
HOCHBERG: In addition to the squeamishness factor of the governor's confessions, they're also causing him legal and political problems. At the urging of South Carolina's attorney general, law enforcement agents are looking into whether Sanford improperly used state money visiting his girlfriend in Argentina and New York. And in the legislature, some of Sanford's fellow Republicans are accumulating names on a letter calling for his resignation.
Unidentified Man #1: We've got 12 members.
Unidentified Man #2: We'll have more today.
Unidentified Man #3: And there's some of them on vacation that we hadn't been able to get in touch with.
HOCHBERG: Senator Jake Knotts and Republican aides passed the letter around the capitol today. Knotts was among the first to call for Sanford to step down last week. And after these new revelations, he says about half the GOP Senate membership now agrees.
Senator JAKE KNOTTS (Republican, South Carolina): Everywhere I go, people are telling me, you know, that he needs to resign, and, you know, it's like a love novel, you know. Like he's trying to write a book or get somebody to do a movie with him. And I don't think the governor has any stability right now and I don't think he had - I definitely don't think he has any credibility.
HOCHBERG: The head of South Carolina's Democratic Party also called for Sanford's resignation this afternoon. But in the governor's public statements, he seemed resolute to stay on the job. Monday, he said resigning would be the easy way out.
Gov. SANFORD: What is the message that I would send to my four boys, my Jenny's four boys on life? Is it you fall and that's the end of story or do you begin the process of getting back up, of rebuilding, life, trust, all that goes with it?
HOCHBERG: Still, even as Sanford makes statements like that, observers in the state capitol say sentiment about him is growing so negative, he may be unable to fight it. University of South Carolina political scientist Robert Oldendick thought last week Sanford would almost certainly finish the last 18 months of his term. Now, Oldendick puts the odds at roughly 50/50.
Professor ROBERT OLDENDICK (Political Science, University of South Carolina): There's more and more pressure building and you can see that with the reservoir of public support that's starting to diminish and, you know, senators and members of the House last week were reserving judgment. As those people come out, they are coming out on the side of, he needs to resign.
HOCHBERG: U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, a Republican ally of Sanford, says he's been talking with the governor behind the scenes and is urging Sanford to, in the senator's words, make the right decision. DeMint predicted a resolution to the situation in the next week. Sanford's office offered little comment on the governor's fate today except to note through a spokesman that Sanford does not want to discuss personal matters in the media anymore.
Adam Hochberg, NPR News, Columbia, South Carolina.