Mark Sanford wasn't nude-hiking the Appalachian Trail. He was chilling in Argentina. He's just a regular-folks governor who jets to Buenos Aires for a week without telling his wife, abandoning his kids on Father's Day while his staff lies preposterously.
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.
Asked why his staff said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, Sanford gave two different answers: 1) I have no idea, and 2) Because I told them I was going to hike the Appalachian Trail.
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.
One thing we know for sure about Sanford is that he hires idiots. His spokesman Joel Sawyer told The State yesterday that Sanford had spoken with his office, and continued to maintain that he was hiking. These are obvious lies—if Sanford checked in, then they would have known he was in Argentina, and if they knew he was in Argentina, then they knew he wasn't hiking—and it was entirely predictable that they would be revealed as such when Sanford returned. You can smell the panic. Did they not think that reporters would be staking out the Atlanta airport?
The State says Sanford returned a day earlier than planned, which would suggest that he had been in contact with his office at some point and been called home. The newspaper also said that he was originally supposed to fly into Columbia, S.C., but arrived in Atlanta after bumping up his return by a day. This is of interest because CNN reported finding his car in the Columbia airport parking lot last night, and a local television station reported finding another of the governor's security-detail SUV's in the Atlanta airport parking lot yesterday.
Why would there be cars at both airports? Given the circumstances, it wouldn't be out of order to speculate wildly: Did the governor's staff plant a car at Columbia's airport to make the Appalachian Trail story appear more likely? After all, it makes little sense that he would drive to Atlanta, about 80 miles from the trail, and then fly to another point on the trail. It does make sense that he would fly from Columbia to Atlanta and then go hiking. So did a panicked staffer, after seeing the report of the governor's car in Atlanta, plant another one in Columbia and leak it to CNN? Who knows.
Sanford also said he was alone on the trip, which no one believes.