Sanford may weather storm as wife offers 'forgiveness'

The StateJuly 3, 2009 

COLUMBIA, S.C. — In the strongest indicator to date that Gov. Mark Sanford might weather a scandal and hold on to his post as the state’s highest elected official, Jenny Sanford, said Thursday that though she is hurt, she is willing to forgive her husband.

But the first lady, who also has been the governor’s closest political adviser, stopped short of saying they will remain married.

In an e-mail statement released Thursday, Jenny Sanford called her husband’s actions inexcusable, and thanked those who have shown support for her and her four sons during the ordeal.

“The real issue now is one of forgiveness. I am willing to forgive Mark for his actions,” she wrote. “My forgiveness is essential for us both to move on with our lives, with peace, in whatever direction that may take us.”

Jenny Sanford said the past week has been “very painful for me, my family and for the people of South Carolina” but that she and her four sons are doing fine.

“Mark showed a lack of judgment in his recent actions as governor. However, his far more egregious offenses were committed against God, the institutions of marriage and family, our boys and me,” she wrote.

“Mark has stated that his intent and determination is to save our marriage, and to make amends to the people of South Carolina. I hope he can make good on those intentions, and for the sake of our boys I leave the door open to it ... .”

Thursday, his spokesman said the governor “remains committed and determined to repair the damage he has done in his marriage and to building back the trust of the people of South Carolina.”

The Sanford family will spend the long Fourth of July holiday weekend in Florida, said Joel Sawyer, the governor’s spokesman. The Sanfords also hope to take a longer family vacation toward the end of July.

Jenny Sanford’s forgiveness is politically important, some lawmakers say, because it helps cast the governor as a wayward husband working to save his marriage.

That’s in contrast with the Mark Sanford who, in an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, called his Argentine lover his soul mate with whom he was having a tragic love affair and who said he was trying to fall back in love with his wife. He also confessed to inappropriate contact with other women that stopped short of sex.

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