Former Gov. Mark Sanford asked his four sons for permission to run for Congress, he told NBC’s Today Show Tuesday morning.

“I sat down with the boys. We had a conversation and said, ‘What do you guys want me to do? If you don’t want me to do it, I’m out.’ Their point was, ‘No, Dad. You’ve long cared about this stuff. You ought to do it.’”

Sanford is one of 16 Republicans candidates running for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional seat. The Post and Courier is publishing profiles of all Republican and Democratic candidates before the March 19 primaries.

Sanford, who released his first campaign video Monday, admitted that discussing his extramarital affair on the campaign trail has been painful.

“Is part of the cost of reentering politics a discussion of my personal failure and the consequences thereof? Yes. Is that painful for me and a lot of others that I love? Yes. But I keep on going back to we are at a tipping point as a civilization and if we don’t get our financial house in order, there are going to be unbelievable consequences for the very folks watching this show right now.”

He said he never failed South Carolina’s taxpayers and argued the $74,000 ethics fine he paid in 2010 did not amount to an admission of guilt.

“I did use business class on legitimate business trips,” he said. “It’s a much longer story.”

The full interview with Today Show Co-Host Savannah Guthrie lasted about four minutes.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.