SULLIVANS ISLAND, S.C. – South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford gave thought to quitting, retreating from public scrutiny to rebuild his life as the scandal of his extramarital affair with an Argentinian woman came out, he told the Associated Press on Sunday.
Close spiritual and political associates urged him to instead fight to restore his constituents’ – and his family’s – trust and finish out the 18 months left in his last term.
He thought “resigning would be the easiest thing to do,” he said.
He’s sticking it out and faces endless questions about the affair, whether he used public money to visit his lover and whether his 20-year marriage will continue. Add to it a barrage of criticism from South Carolina politicians who think the two-term Republican should step down.
“Part of walking humbly is you’ve got to listen to your critics out there,” the 49-year-old Sanford said. “And all of us will have critics, and the higher you go, I suppose, the more critics you have.”
Sanford spoke exclusively with the Associated Press outside his family’s beach house on Sullivans Island. He, his wife, Jenny, and sons were in separate cars, headed to his family’s farm – where his 83-year-old mother lives – in Beaufort, an hour south.
The governor admitted last week to a yearlong affair with the woman from Argentina whom he says he’s known for about eight years.
Sanford appeared contrite and spoke of falling from grace and rebuilding his life.
“I am sorry,” he said. “I apologize for letting everyone down.”
The Sanfords say they will try to reconcile. One person they’ve sought help from is their spiritual counselor, Warren “Cubby” Culbertson, whom Mark Sanford thanked during the news conference in which he admitted his affair.