Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford says politics are not in his immediate plans but he still has his sights on serious issues such as the deficit facing the nation.
Getting back into politics, he told The Associated Press, is "not my intention nor my aim at this point but I've also learned you never say never in life."
Sanford spoke to AP on Friday, a few hours before an interview on Fox News Channel aired.
Sanford says he's received numerous media interview requests and the Sean Hannity interview on Fox News was his way of slowly getting back to talking about the nation's troubles. The two-term Republican, who left office last January, has long criticized government spending.
He said on the show he didn't think people would listen before now because of fallout from his announcement in 2009 that he was having an affair with a woman in Argentina he later called his soul mate.
Sanford faced impeachment hearings in 2009 after the state ethics commission looked into his use of state planes, campaign cash and first-class travel stemming from the affair. The GOP-dominated House issued a formal rebuke but did not impeach Sanford, who paid $74,000 in ethics fines and reimbursed the state for the investigation and travel and personal expenses.
"The aim of the interview wasn't any climbing back into politics," he told the AP. "I think this represents me sticking my toe back in the water and talking about things I care about."
Sanford has long voiced worry about the financial condition of the state and the nation.
"I care passionately about the direction of this country and deficit and debt and all the things that seem to be in vogue right now," he said.
Sanford has spent the last seven months out of the limelight, spending time on his farm in Beaufort County. He said that, working with his four sons, he built a small cottage and a bridge to a small island where he hopes to one day build a home.
He said he's not settled yet on what sort of job he wants to go back to.
"A number of governors have said to me _ even without the storm of the last few years of my life _ when you leave the governorship, don't rush into anything, take your time and I think that's been good advice. I've found it cathartic to build."
He told Hannity: "I probably have more to offer as a human being than I ever have. Probably a smaller canvas to paint on, here, at least in the short term."
He said in the interview he hasn't settled on whom to endorse in the 2012 Republican presidential primary.
He praised U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for his budget-cutting plans but suggested he would like to see a candidate that is a combination of Ryan and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Sanford also spoke to Hannity about the collapse of his marriage. He took the blame for the love leaking out of his relationship and wishes he hadn't made ex-wife Jenny the manager of many of his campaigns for U.S. House and governor.
"I don't think I properly loved Jenny _ and I put the failure of the marriage in my camp, as she deserved to be loved as a woman. And this isn't the love as in a feeling; this is love as an action," he said.
He also said in the television interview he feels like he has learned more about what women and men want in a romantic relationship. He said men are looking for respect and significance, while women need emotional or financial security.
When asked about the woman he had an extramarital affair with, Sanford told the AP that was a conversation for another time.
The Post and Courier of Charleston obtained excerpts of Sanford's interview.
Information from: The Post and Courier, http://www.postandcourier.com