Sanford: Resigning would be "heaven on Earth," but I won't

The governor delivers a sharp response to his lieutenant, who called on him to step down

Published August 26, 2009 8:45PM (EDT)

The last time South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford held a press conference like the one he had on Wednesday afternoon, it was to admit to an affair. This time, he made another rambling, eccentric statement, but it was about an outgrowth of that affair -- the public call South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer had made earlier in the day for him to resign.

Responding to Bauer's remarks, and to his promise not to run for a full term in 2010 if he became governor now, Sanford said, "I very much appreciate the offer. In that light, I mean, in some ways, the proposal is -- is almost a representation of something close to heaven on Earth, because ... it would represent heaven on Earth to take him up on that offer of him taking my spot here for the last 16 months."

But, Sanford said, he wasn't going to take the lieutenant governor up on his offer:

As much as I might like to do that, as much as I might want to do that, I really believe it'd be wrong for a couple of different reasons ...

A lot of what's going on now is pure politics, plain and simple. And so what I talk about in my letter [to Bauer] is, you know, me hanging up the spurs 16 months out, as comfortable as that would be, as much as I might like to do that on a personal basis, it is wrong, one, because, as much as you might dislike somebody, it is not right to go out and try and rewrite history, because we have an incredible record when it comes to watching out for the taxpayer. And there have been attempts to sort of rewrite history on that front ...

I also think it's wrong given the constitutionally weak status of the governorship in South Carolina. As much as I might want to fold the tent, again, for future governors, just because folks might be frenzied up or frightened or other things in the General Assembly, does not mean it is the right time to fold the tent.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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