Published August 26, 2009
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford brushed off an appeal from Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer on Wednesday to step down, saying that as attractive as it sounds, it would be wrong.
"I'm not going to be railroaded out of this office by political opponents or folks who were never fans of mine in the first place," he said at a news conference where he announced he was sending a letter to Bauer rejecting his appeal.
Earlier in the day, Bauer called for the embattled governor to step down, saying the state has been crippled by questions over the legality of the governor's travel, which included trips to visit his mistress.
Sanford cast Bauer's appeal as an offer that he very much appreciates but cannot accept.
"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," he said, explaining that "as much as you might dislike somebody, it is not right to go out and try to rewrite history because we have an incredible record when it comes to watching out for the taxpayer."
At an earlier news conference, Bauer said if Sanford resigns, he will renew his offer to stay out of the 2010 gubernatorial race. Sanford's term ends in January 2011.
Bauer says he tried to give the governor the benefit of the doubt after he admitted to having an affair. But the lieutenant governor says he worries calls for Sanford's impeachment will dominate next year's legislative session, instead of issues like the economy and job creation.
"The serious misconduct that has been revealed along with lingering questions and continuing distractions make it virtually impossible for our state to solve the critical problems we're facing without a change in leadership," he said.
Bauer is the most prominent Republican to call for Sanford's resignation. He was widely expected to run for governor next year. But Bauer has numerous critics among South Carolina Republicans. GOP critics view him as a loose cannon.
Sanford has come under scrutiny since his June admission of an affair with an Argentine mistress.
In a series of investigations, The Associated Press has raised questions about the legality of Sanford's travel.
Sanford reportedly took 35 flights on private planes that he did not list on state ethics forms or campaign reports. The flights are noted on Sanford's official calendars, obtained by the AP through a Freedom of Information request.
State law requires elected officials to disclose gifts received in a day worth $25 or more and "anything of value" over the course of a year worth at least $200 "if there is reason to believe the donor would not give the thing of value" but for the public official's position.
Sanford arranged to meet with his mistress in one of the 2008 Republican Governors' Assoication trips that he did not disclose. He had been traveling to Ireland for RGA in November, and arranged a meeting with the woman when he returned, according to records he released after the affair became public.
A South Carolina GOP leader compared Bauer's statement to a move in a "game of poker" between two camps who do not like each other. The GOP official said Bauer's move opens the door wider for heightened criticism by party leaders.
At his news conference Wednesday Sanford said that while his political career will end when his term expires in 2011, he still wants to help improve the state economy during that time and leave a legacy that shows he wasn't focused on higher political aspirations.
"That's what I want to aim at and that's what I'm going to be aiming at here in the next 16 months and I just wanted to say that and leave it with y'all," he said.
FOX News' Serafin Gomez and Carl Cameron and The Associated Press contributed to this report.