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Hannity

Exclusive: Former Gov. Mark Sanford Opens Up on Extramarital Affair

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 5, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And joining me now for his first interview since the news broke about his extramarital affair in 2009 is former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Governor, I appreciate you being here, thank you very much.

MARK SANFORD, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: Pleasure.

HANNITY: You know, it is interesting. Because I read a lot about your life. There's a dichotomy here. I won't use the term split personality, because that's a little harsh. But I read about your background. Your family life. Your life growing up. Your values. The things you did as governor. Your faith. You are a staunch, Christian conservative, conservative governor. How do you explain the two sides of your life?

SANFORD: You know, I think that's one of the $94 questions in all of life, which is the reality of our own humanity. None of us are perfect. And I think, if there is any lesson learned here for me over this last two years and a whole lot of reflection, it is the significance of God's grace and the grace of others. Because the reality is every one of us are imperfect.

HANNITY: But I mean, everything you did was -- you were you really on a path, where a lot of people were talking about you may one day be the president of the United States. You know about that talk?

SANFORD: Yes, and I don't think it is particularly constructive to look back on the might have beens of life. I think the reality is that you are where you are. And I think the important part is, sort of looking forward of you know, what have I learned over these last two years? And I would say that, you know, I said to a friend the other day, you know, I probably have more to offer as a human being than I ever have, probably a smaller canvass to paint on. Here at least in the short term.

But, you know, that's the reality of every one of our lives is, it may be a financial crisis. It may be a personal crisis. It may be -- you go down the laundry list of different things. You know, I used to read the paper and I would read and I'd say, you know, loser, loser, idiot, moron, you know, how did they make these mistake. I now say, but by the grace of God (INAUDIBLE).

HANNITY: You know, it's interesting because you see this happens with politicians, more recently Anthony Weiner, before that, John Edwards is running for president of the United States. Bill Clinton in the Oval Office. Are those the people that you used to refer to when you read the paper, what a loser, what an idiot? Because I did see those comments you made.

SANFORD: I'm not aiming at any one person, I'm just saying generally. And again, I keep going back to lessons learned, whether it is on the judgment front, on the need for grace. Again, I think that probably the more constructive thing is to look at, you know, not what one might have done, or how did you get things wrong? But again, what did you learn from it? And again, a wealth of lessons learned.

HANNITY: You say that you are probably more prepared now to be a leader in a sense, there's been a lot of talk about maybe you reentering the political world, I'm jumping ahead a little bit. Are you considering that?

SANFORD: No, I'm not, but what I'm saying is, I don't think in some ways, you really lived until you failed. Hopefully not in a monumental level. But I think that there's a period of introspection, a time in the desert that you cannot appreciate until you have been there. And I think, you know, for those of us who are achievers, and my life has sort of been one way and rather linear in nature, you never stop long enough to really do the soul-searching that comes with the time in the desert.

HANNITY: Let me talk a little bit about for example, the conflict that I see in you. You are having this relationship with this woman in Argentina. And these letters that you had, and e-mails back and forth between the two of you. You know, I read one and it talks about, you knew you were being considered as a possible vice presidential choice of John McCain. At another point, you are quoting the Bible in a letter to your mistress. And I'm reading this and I'm trying to put that together.

SANFORD: Well, you know, I would say that the word mistress connotates a financial level of support which there was none. She's from a, you know, a wealthy family, a fine family down that way, so I wouldn't define it as mistress --

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: The woman you were having an affair with.

SANFORD: Yes. In other words, I fell in love with somebody I shouldn't have. But I think that what everybody focuses on is that moment. There were 10 years before that, where I happen to know this person and she was nothing more than a friend. It was purely plutonic. I didn't see it coming. She didn't see it coming. But it happened. And I think that the bigger question is not in that moment, not of her attributes, not what attracted me to her, but again, I go back to lessons learned. And I would say this to men out there, if you want to fireproof your marriage, I think there are a couple of absolutely vital things that you do that I have learned here over the last...

HANNITY: Like what?

SANFORD: I would say one, I got my priorities off. You know, for 20 years almost, invested my life into trying to make an impact in the direction this country would go to debt, deficit and spending. And I thought that that was my calling. Like Jenny used to joke, you know, she used to say, you know, if they actually figured out what they pay you on an hourly basis, you are working for a whole lot less than minimum wage. I think that as men, we often times define our calling by what we do. It is true if you are an athlete, if you're in business, if you're in media, if you're in the world of politics.

I think the reality now, after this last chapter of life is, as important as that was, that was not my calling in life. And this is going to sound weird and I wouldn't have said it prior to these two years. But I would say now, my calling in life is to seek ye first God's kingdom and his righteousness and then all this other stuff will be added to you. It is to love God with all your heart and mine, and your neighbor as yourself. I think that if you get that as true north, and east, south and west, are well-defined. If you get off on what your real calling is, if you begin to define it as your work, as important as that might be, then a lot of other things fall out of place.

HANNITY: All right. I think there's probably a ton of lessons that a lot of people can learn. Because I've done the same things you have. I've looked at the paper, idiot, idiot, idiot. And you know, sometimes maybe it is judgmental. And maybe there's some lessons to learn here. And maybe I think a lot of people can learn a lot to night. We'll talk a little bit. We'll talk about that. We'll talk about your future and what that holds for you.

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