As part of a fresh round of interviews designed to help save his job, South Carolina governor Mark Sanford suggested a higher power wants him to remain in office, and called his now legendary Appalachian Trail deception “a little white lie”. And the embattled Palmetto State Romeo reiterated that he planned to complete his term, which runs through 2010, in order to advance conservative principles — despite a meeting of GOP lawmakers over the weekend, at which not a single person expressed support for him.
“I feel absolutely committed to the cause, to what God wanted me to do with my life,” Sanford told the Washington Times. “I have got this blessing of being engaged in a fight for liberty, which is constantly being threatened.”
Sanford sought to minimize his irresponsibility in leaving the state to visit his Argentinian lover while claiming he had gone hiking on the Appalachian Trail, saying he had told his staff a “little white lie.”
A poll last week showed that 50 percent of South Carolinians want him to step down, nine points higher than in June when the affair became public.
Sanford also spoke to the Wall Street Journal, declaring (sub. req.) “I have a newfound level of humility, knowing how hard I work and how hard I push is not the ultimate driver of change. Power resides with people.”
He described himself as “zen-like” in his focus on his job.
Still, speaking to Times, he wasn’t above a bit of self-pity. Sanford compared himself to Sarah Palin in acknowledging a state ethics probe, requested by the attorney general and legislative leaders, that’s looking into his use of state aircraft, his overseas flights and whether he used campaign funds to pay personal expenses. Palin cited the cost of fighting off what she called frivolous ethics complaints as a reason why she quit as Alaska governor in July. Said Sanford: “I think I now know what Sarah may have been feeling.”
Sanford also lamented that he’s being written off by the state’s political community. “What happened is that you take your eye off the ball and have the moral failing that I did,” he told the Times, “and suddenly you are off the playing field. Then you realize how blessed you were to have been on that playing field.”