Sanford vows to remain governor, make nice
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford says he's planning to remain in office as part of an 18-month repentance process. As he sees it, quitting would be the easy way out of the mess he's in because of an extramarital affair and a secret visit to his mistress in Argentina. "If the Good Lord is going to make changes in your life, you gotta stick around for the process," says Sanford, on the steps of the South Carolina Capitol Building after a weekend spent "soul-searching." Sanford hasn't stopped apologizing since 2:30 p.m. last Wednesday afternoon when he admitted to having an affair and leaving the state in the dark while he visited his mistress in Argentina. Even the most mundane of meetings yesterday started with more mea culpas: "If you've disappointed people as I have, I don't think you can outdo it," said Sanford. "So Hugh, I want to apologize to you personally for letting you down." Sanford was speaking to Senator Hugh Leatherman, a ranking Republican and harsh critic of the Governor. Sanford went on to apologize to each of the staffers and state officials around the table at Budget and Control Board meeting. Then Sanford turned back to Senator Leatherman and signaled what could be a major shift in leadership style if he's given the chance to serve out the last 18 months of his term: "I think if there's any spot wherein the larger sin if you will - the sin of pride - has shown itself, it's been in these meetings," said Sanford. "And so on that front, I want to apologize to you, very specifically, Hugh." Senator Leatherman only nodded. But after the meeting he seemed to brush off the apology. "He has his philosophy, I have mine and they just were not always in same direction. There's no need for apology," said Leatherman. "I guess the thing that's bothering me the most is he left our state, he left our people in a very vulnerable position." Leatherman is one of a several Republican and Democratic state lawmakers calling for Sanford to resign - even if he promises to play nice: "You know, once we break our word with the people, by saying he was one place when in fact he was somewhere else, I think the people in this state's gonna have a tough time trusting him in the future," said Leatherman. In the days since he admitted the affair, Governor Sanford has taken on a meek and conciliatory tone that is a dramatic departure from the confrontational way he has clashed with the legislature and championed his views over the last 8 years. He is vowing now to be more humble and benevolent in dealing with lawmakers. But Winthrop University political Scientist Scott Huffmon says it may be too late. "At this point he really doesn't have any other options," said Huffmon. "His battles have left him politically weakened, and then you add onto it a loss of political capital because of the affair and he really has no other choice but conciliation, so that's not going to be viewed as something he willingly undertook." Even still, Huffmon says there doesn't appear to be the support among state lawmakers for impeaching Sanford. That may be because a weaker, meeker Governor might make it easier for lawmakers to get what they want. But lawmakers aren't the only ones calling the shots now. Huffmon says, if the Governor is forced to resign, it will most be the result of pressure from the Republican Party or possibly his own family.