South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford 'Climbing Out of My Cocoon'

Former South Carolina governor discusses decision to emerge from seclusion.

ByABC News
August 22, 2011, 1:21 PM

Aug. 23, 2011 -- A scandal-plagued former governor who was once considered a potential presidential contender for 2012 is instead standing on the periphery, reflecting on what might have been and watching as the Republican primary field continues to take shape.

"A number of my friends have called this a Greek tragedy," former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said of his absence from the 2012 GOP primary race.

Noting a political climate fixated on fiscal restraint, some have said Sanford's record as a congressman and then as governor of South Carolina show he was "Tea Party before Tea Party was cool."

He was, for example, the first governor to issue a letter to the White House rejecting about $8 billion of stimulus funds. "I've been saying this stuff for years," Sanford said.

It has been a little more than two years since Sanford stood before the media and confessed to an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman. Once mentioned as a presidential candidate, the unfolding scandal, which included a week-long disappearance, torpedoed Sanford's bright political future. While Sanford was able to weather impeachment proceedings and calls for his resignation, his wife divorced him and he resigned as Chairman of the Republican Governor's Association.

Sanford described his actions leading up the scandal as "pouring gasoline all over myself and lighting a match."

Once it became evident his marriage had suffered beyond redemption, Sanford said he was determined to "finish strong as governor." He calls his final 18 months in office his "most productive season."

Sanford disappeared from the public eye after his term as governor ended in January and has only recently re-emerged. In the past two weeks, he has appeared on a few political talk shows and given several media interviews, saying repeatedly he is deeply troubled by the spending trajectory of the United States, an anxiety he cites as the impetus for his decision to speak out once more: