SC first lady: I wouldn't have stood with governor

AP News
Posted: Dec 08, 2009 11:51 AM

Even if her straying husband had asked her to, South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford says she wouldn't have stood with Gov. Mark Sanford when he faced cameras to tell the world about his affair with an Argentine woman.

Jenny Sanford told ABC's Barbara Walters for a special airing Wednesday her husband's actions have caused consequences but not robbed her of her self esteem. Excerpts of the interview were released Tuesday.

As she has said in earlier interviews, Sanford told Walters she found out about her husband's affair last January and forbid him to see the other woman. She said she told him not to see his four boys or her for a month last summer as well.

"My hope was that he would wake up from whatever he was in the throes of and maybe see what he might lose," she said.

"Certainly his actions hurt me, and they caused consequences for me, but they don't in any way take away my own self-esteem," she said. "They reflect poorly on him."

Jenny Sanford said she did not know where her husband was for five days last summer when his disappeared from the state.

The governor told his staff he was hiking the Appalachian Trail although he was in Argentina seeing his lover. State lawmakers are considering whether to impeach Sanford for abandoning the state when he took the trip.

When he returned, Sanford, at a tearful news conference, confessed the affair.

But Jenny Sanford was not beside him and she told Walters that the governor never asked her to appear.

"I wouldn't have. If he had asked me, I would have said no," she said.

Many of Jenny Sanford's counterparts have stood with their spouses for similar moments of scandal, including the wives of former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, who outed himself as gay; former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who acknowledged he was the client of a call-girl ring; and Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, who was arrested in an airport bathroom sex sting.

The Sanfords no longer live together. The governor remains in Columbia at the Governor's Mansion while Jenny Sanford and their four sons live at the family's beachfront home on Sullivans Island, 120 miles away.

Jenny Sanford's memoir, to be published by Ballantine Books next May, will describe her dealings with this year's difficulties.

"Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2009" airs Wednesday at 10 p.m. EST on ABC.