Mark Sanford has surfaced. And, boy, does he have a story to tell:
Gov. Mark Sanford arrived in the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this morning, having wrapped up a seven-day visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, he said. Sanford said he had not been hiking along the Appalachian Trail, as his staff said in a Tuesday statement to the media.
Sanford’s whereabouts had been unknown since Thursday, and the mystery surrounding his absence fueled speculation about where he had been and who’s in charge in his absence. His emergence Wednesday ended the mystery.
“Ended the mystery” is, presumably, unexpected sarcasm.
Sanford, in an exclusive interview with The State, said he decided at the last minute to go to the South American country to recharge after a difficult legislative session in which he battled with lawmakers over how to spend federal stimulus money.
Sanford said he had considered hiking on the Appalachian Trail, an activity he said he has enjoyed since he was a high school student.
“But I said ‘no’ I wanted to do something exotic,” Sanford said “… It’s a great city.
The governor said he cut his trip short after his chief of staff, Scott English, told him his trip was gaining a lot of media attention and he needed to come back.
When asked why his staff said he was on the Appalachian Trail, Sanford replied, “I don’t know.”
Sanford later said “in fairness to his staff,” he had told them he might go hiking on the Appalachian Trial.
Sanford said he decided not to return via the Columbia airport to avoid the media. The State Media Company was the only media who (sic) greeted Sanford this morning.
“I don’t know how this thing got blown out of proportion,” Sanford said. “
Indeed! Sanford must therefore be the pure distilled reincarnation of Pollyanna.
Maybe it hasn’t yet occurred to Sanford that every time he opens his mouth to explain what he was really doing over the last six days, he’s going to end up raising more questions than he answers. But, mark my words: his story is going to keep changing. And, before he’s through, this man will be babbling about being abducted by aliens.
One thing’s for sure. Nobody can quite pick Presidential candidates like the Republican party.
*** Update, 7:28 a.m. ***
One set of questions that Sanford and his staff are presumably going to have to address today is:
• Did Sanford really call his staff yesterday?
• Did they not ask, and did he not tell them, where he was?
• Or did he instruct them not to tell anyone he had been in Buenos Aires?
It’s going to be interesting to watch as intrepid investigators try to untangle exactly how many different lies have been told in the last few days, and by whom.
*** Update #2, 8:19 a.m. ***
In his perhaps not-fully-considered remarks to The State at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this morning, His Governorship claimed to have been in Buenos Aires the whole time. Not travelling in Argentina generally, just enjoying the beautiful city of Buenos Aires. When asked, “Governorship, Governorship, what did you there?”, he “declined to give any additional details about what he did other than to say he drove along the coastline.”
That has prompted the AP to provide this helpful gloss:
Trying to drive along the coast could frustrate a weekend visitor to Argentina. In Buenos Aires, the Avenida Costanera is the only coastal road, and it’s less than two miles long. Reaching coastal resorts to the south requires a drive of nearly four hours on an inland highway with views of endless cattle ranches. To the north is a river delta of islands reached only by boat.