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Sanford and Sins

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 24, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: A mystery. Now, it's not a whodunnit because he did it. He is a cheater. But we're going to let Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, tell you himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. MARK SANFORD - R - S.C.: And so the bottom line is this. I -- I've been unfaithful to my wife. I developed a relationship with a -- what started out as a dear, dear friend from Argentina. It began very innocently, as I suspect many of these things do, in just a casual e- mail back and forth, in advice on one's life there and advice here.

But here recently over this last year, it developed into something much more than that. And as a consequence, I hurt her. I hurt you all. I hurt my wife. I hurt my boys. I hurt friends like Tom Davis. I hurt a lot of different folks. And all I can say is that I apologize.

You know, I'm committed to that process of -- of walking through with Jenny and the boys, with the Tom Davises of the world, with the people of South Carolina in -- in saying, Where do we go from here? I -- I would simply say I go back to that simple word of asking for forgiveness.

I would apologize to my staff because as much as I did talk about going to the Appalachian Trail -- that was one of the original scenarios that I'd thrown out to Mary Neil (ph) -- that isn't where I ended up. And so I let them down by creating a fiction with regard to where I was going, which means that I had then, in turn, given as much they relied on that information, let down people that I represent across this state.

What's that?

QUESTION: Is this the first and only time you've been unfaithful?

SANFORD: Yes. Yes.

QUESTION: Were you alone in Argentina?

QUESTION: Did you break off the relationship?

SANFORD: Obviously not. What's that?

QUESTION: Were you alone?

SANFORD: Obviously not.

QUESTION: Did you break off the relationship?

SANFORD: The -- no, it was interesting in how this thing has gone down, John (ph). I could give you way more detail than you'll ever want. I met this person a little over eight years ago, again, very innocently, and struck up a conversation. And I want to go back to the bubble of politics. This is not justifying because, again, what I did was wrong, period, end of story.

(CROSSTALK)

SANFORD: OK, wait, wait. Wait, wait. No, I didn't. It was my own ticket.

(CROSSTALK)

SANFORD: Wait, wait. Guys, one question at a time. Is that fair enough? The -- and -- and there's a certain irony to this. This person at the time was separated, and we ended up in this incredibly serious conversation about why she ought to get back with her husband for the sake of her two boys, that not only was it a part of God's law, but ultimately, those two boys would be better off for it.

And we had this incredibly earnest conversation. And at the end of it, I said, Could I get your e-mail? We swapped e-mails, whatever. And it began just on a very casual basis -- Hey, I've got this issue that's come up with my life, or vice versa, What do you think? Because when you live in the zone of politics, you can't ever let your guard down. You can't ever say, What do you think or what do you think because it could be a front page story or this story or that story.

And so there was this zone of protectedness. And she -- she lives thousands of miles away and I was up here, and you could throw an idea out or vice versa. And we developed a remarkable friendship over those eight years. And then, as I said, about a year ago, it sparked into something more than that. I have seen her three times since then, during that whole sparking thing. And it was discovered ...

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

SANFORD: ... let me finish -- five months ago. And at that point, we went into serious overdrive in trying to say, Where do you go from here? And that's where the Cubby Culbertsons and the others of the world began to help with, you know, How do you get all this right? How do you, again, be honest?

And so it had been back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. And the one thing that you really find is that you absolutely want resolution. And so, oddly enough, I spent the last five days -- and I was crying in Argentina so I could repeat it when I came back here -- in saying, you know, while, indeed, from a heart level, there was something real, it was a place based on the fiduciary relationship I had to the people of South Carolina, based on my boys, based on my wife, based on where I was in life, based on where she was in life, and places I couldn't go and she couldn't go.

And that is, I suspect, a continual process all through life of getting one's heart right in life. And so I would never stand before you as one who just says, Yo, I'm completely right with regard to my heart on all things. But what I would say is I'm committed to trying to get my heart right because the one thing that Cubby and all the others have told me is that the odyssey that we're all on in life is with regard to heart -- not what I want or what you want, but in other words, indeed, this larger notion of truly trying to put other people first.

And I suspect if I'd really put this other person first, I wouldn't have jeopardized her life as I have. I certainly wouldn't have done it to my wife. I wouldn't have done it to my boys. I wouldn't have done it to the Tom Davises of the world. This was selfishness on my part. And for that, I'm most apologetic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: So what happens not to Governor Sanford in his home state of South Carolina? Joining us is live, Yvonne Wenger, reporter for The Post and Courier. She was at the press conference today. Yvonne, first the question a lot of taxpayers must be wondering tonight. Who paid for these trips to Argentina? Were these paid by the governor or by the taxpayers in South Carolina?

YVONNE WENGER, POST AND COURIER: That's a question that we'll be pursuing tomorrow. Obviously, it'll raise a lot of different sort of questions if the governor was charging these trips to the state and could possibly lead a whole 'nother firestorm for him that maybe he attempted to put out today.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why did he go public today? Is it because he got caught on a trip, lying to his staff, coming from Argentina, or is it because at least one newspaper had the e-mails -- apparently, had them, at least according to one publication, as early as December?

WENGER: Well, the governor apparently checked in with his chief of staff first thing on Tuesday morning, and that point, there was still no mention to the public about his trip to Argentina. The line had still been where -- that the governor had been on the Appalachian Trail. So you've got to assume that when The State newspaper reporter greeted him at the Atlanta airport that they started thinking about what to do next.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it fair to say that this was not a one-time deal, a one-time indiscretion, but that this was going on and on and on and on?

WENGER: The governor said that he met this woman, Maria, eight years ago and that it started out innocently and that they had developed a real friendship over those -- seven of those years and that it had turned into something much different about a year ago. He said his wife found out, first lady Jenny Sanford, about five months ago. And in those five months, he had seen Maria about three more times.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where did he meet Maria?

WENGER: He didn't say today, and his staff shooed him off before we were able to ask a whole lot of other questions that were on our minds. Something interesting that I wanted to say -- the governor described this zone, this political world that he found himself in without knowing who to trust or who he could turn to, and that's really how he said this relationship with Maria developed, that he found somebody that was thousands of miles away that he could go to as a confidante. And it just is interesting. It makes you think about what a lonely life in politics might be like if you can't trust people.

VAN SUSTEREN: Except for the fact that there are many men and women who are in politics who don't violate their vows over and over and over again. And he may have this sort of political zone -- we heard from Senator John Edwards his wife was in remission, so you know, I -- maybe it -- is that -- that sort of political zone -- is that sort of -- is he getting sympathy from the people in South Carolina, or are they sort of acting like I am, to, like -- you know, Don't give me that, you know?

WENGER: Yes, at this point, I'm not sure how much sympathy he's getting. You know, I was hearing from a lot of readers this morning, when our print story was out, that, you know, Cut the guy a break. He just wants a little time off the public radar to enjoy himself and everything. And then obviously, when the news came that he had misled his staff, who had therefore, you know, presented information to the public which was inaccurate, I think -- I think that people weren't quite as patient and understanding with him. But to see the guy today...

VAN SUSTEREN: But you use terms like "misled." Would you agree it's lying? I mean, "misled" is a nice word, but the guy lied. He lied to his constituents. He lied to his staff. He lied to his wife. Not on just one occasion, it's multiple. I mean, he's a serial liar.

WENGER: Yes, I guess, I mean (INAUDIBLE) lie by omission, so -- he termed it as "misled," and I could see why a lot of people might perceive that as a lie.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yvonne, thank you very much. A lot of focus going to be on your state for the next couple days. Hope you'll come back. Thank you, Yvonne.


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