Sanford Admits Affair

Jun 24, 2009 2:45pm

 ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Gov. Mark Sanford today acknowledged that he was engaged in an extra-marital affair with a woman who lives in Argentina — in a bombshell announcement that capped a bizarre few days where his whereabouts were unknown. “The bottom line is this: I've been unfaithful to my wife,” Sanford, R-S.C., said at an emotional afternoon news conference at the State House in Columbia. “All I can say is that I apologize.” “I’m committed to getting my heart right,” he added. Choking back tears, the governor apologized to his family, to South Carolinians, and to members of his staff — whom he misled about his whereabouts since last Thursday. "To Jenny, anybody who has observed her over the last twenty years of my life knows how closely she has stood by my side," said Sanford of his wife.  "In campaign, after campaign, after campaign and literally being my campaign manager and in the raising of those four boys and in a whole host of other things throughout the lives that we built together." Sanford added that he and his wife are trying to reconcile their relationship and have been "working through this thing for about the last five months." The governor went on to say that he was immediately resigning his position as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. "I'm going to tender my resignation.  One, because I think it's the appropriate thing to do given other governors across this nation and my roll as chairman of the RGA.  And, two," Sanford continued. "If I think about this process, not only does it begin at a family level, it begins with the family of South Carolinians and so that means me going one by one and town by town to talk to a lot of old friends across this state in what I've done and indeed asking their forgiveness.  That'll take time, time that I probably cant devote to the RGA."
  
Sanford on Wednesday arrived back in the United States after seven days in Buenos Aires. Under pressure to explain his absence from the state, his staff members had said he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail; Sanford said today he had indicated that he had thought about taking such a trip, but was actually in Argentina. "I would also apologize to my staff because as much as I did talk about going to the Appalachian Trail, and it was one of the original scenarios that I had thrown out …that isn't where I ended up," said Sanford.  "I let them down by creating a fiction with regard to where I was going." Sanford’s admission follows by only a week a similar admission by Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. — whom, like Sanford, has also been discussed as a potential Republican presidential candidate. UPDATE: Sanford didn’t answer a shouted question at the end of the news conference about whether he would remain in office.  But in a follow-up statement issued by his office, he made clear that he does not intend to resign: “I apologize to the people of South Carolina. There are many people out there right now who are hurt, angry and disappointed with me, and rightfully so. Over the time that I have left in office, I'm going to devote my energy to building back the trust the people of this state have placed in me,” he said. ABC News' Lindsey Ellerson contributed to this report.
 

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