Reporter: Sanford “Close to Hating” JobJune 25, 2009 - 12:58 PM | by: Jonathan Serrie
“Where’s Gina Smith?” Gov. Mark Sanford asks as he scans the crowd of reporters assembled in the hallway outside his South Carolina Statehouse office.
Someone informs him Smith, a reporter for The State newspaper, is not present. The governor begins his news conference with a rambling account of the conversation he had with Smith when she confronted him at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport upon his return from an unannounced week-long trip to Argentina.
Sanford recalls telling Smith about his love for the Appalachian trail, how he initially told his staff that’s where he intended to go, the stresses of his job and his desire to get away from time to time.
“All of these things we talked about this morning were true,” Sanford says, “but they’re not the whole story.”
More than seven minutes into his statement, Sanford admits to having an extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina.
“I always will wonder if the story would have broken if I had failed to catch him at the airport,” Smith writes in today’s edition of The State. The reporter says an anonymous tip on Sanford’s travel plans, and emails alleging an affair, led her to Sanford’s arriving flight.
Even hours before Sanford’s admission of the affair, Smith noticed, “it was clear he was troubled, feeling defeat both personally and professionally” and that the governor’s unsuccessful battle to refuse federal stimulus funds to his state “was only part of the problem.”
Smith quotes the governor:
“‘I don’t hate my job,’ he said near the end of our interview. But, he said, he was close to hating it. It was a job where he should have the ability to accomplish big things, he said. ‘Unfortunately,’ he said, ‘I didn’t.’”