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Small turnout for citizens rally to oust Governor Sanford

Rally Organizer Marilyn Hemingway hspace=4
Rally Organizer Marilyn Hemingway hspace=4

Politicians, pundits and elected officials have all had their say in the scandal over Governor Mark Sanford's affair. Thursday night, citizens gathered in Columbia to have theirs. It's one thing to have 6,000 people join your Facebook group calling for the governor to resign. It's another to get them out in person to wave signs on his door step. Only about 50 people have come out for this rally. The stormy weather probably isn't helping. I'm here with Marilyn Hemingway, who started the Facebook page. "We've heard from a lot of people through emails and phone calls who said 'Sorry we can't be here but we are behind you 100 percent,'" says Hemingway. "I did not know what to expect. I'm happy with the turnout." For their small number, they're an enthusiastic group. Nearly everyone holds a sign telling Sanford to "Take a hike" or some other clever play on his now infamous trip to Argentina to visit his mistress. His staff believed- and told the public- he was hiking the Appalachian trail. But for many people here, Sanford's affair was just the last straw. In fact, the Impeach Sanford Facebook group started months ago over the stimulus issue. That's one of Jessica Shealy's main concerns. She's 18 and this is her first-ever political rally: "With the whole vetoing the stimulus plan. . .I don't agree with that, because I know a couple of people's dads who are unemployed now and they're very stressed and trying to figure out how to pay for their family,"says Shealy. "And now the whole cheating on the wife thing, it's like how can we trust you if you're not even truthful to your family?" Shealy came with her friend Kim Anthony- who happens to be one of those people with an unemployed dad. "The affair isn't really the problem for me," says 20-year-old Anthony. "It's the fact that he left and didn't tell anyone where he was going. Very irresponsible." "If I leave my job for a couple days or weeks, I'm probably going to be fired most likely," adds Jimmy Teeter. "If he's allowed to stay in his post, I believe in the future somebody else may try this and feel there maybe not be really serious consequences." Teeter says he voted for Sanford once, but has since changed his mind. Rod Dobson says he voted for Sanford twice and actually still supports the Governor. He was among a handful who showed up to counter protest and he says the "irresponsibility argument" doesn't hold water. "I don't think it's irresponsible," says Dobson. "I think if Mark thought there was a hurricane that was going to affect the state, I don't think he would have left. We don't need a full-time nanny in this state. We can take care of ourselves." That's not how a majority of South Carolina residents feel, according to two recent polls. One of them by Survey USA found 60-percent of people thought Sanford should resign. But even if thousands of them had shown up to wave signs at the State Capitol, University of South Carolina political scientist Robert Oldendick says it probably wouldn't have made a difference: "Because he is really resolute in his belief that while he made a mistake, in terms of the governance of his office, in terms of things he wants to get done, there's no grounds to leave office and he would have stuck to it," says Oldendick. So how did we go from what looked like a groundswell of people calling for resignation a week ago to Sanford now seeming pretty safe? "The thing that would have tipped it would have been something illegal," says Oldendick. "If the SLED investigation would have come out last week and said there was misuse of public funds, then I think the governor would have been more likely to resign or the pressure would have tipped it in that direction. Now we're dealing with the facts as we know them on the ground today. But I think that it's pretty well settled at this point." Oldendick says it also helped that the State Republican Party only censured Sanford rather than calling for his resignation. And frankly, he says impeachment proceedings are too expensive and too risky for Republican lawmakers to tackle.