Sanford working convention for Fox News
TAMPA, Fla. — Former Gov. Mark Sanford was working his newest gig Wednesday, appearing as a paid contributor for Fox News at the Republican National Convention.
Sanford said he came here at the last minute after Fox offered him the job.
Just days ago he made headlines after proposing to Maria Belen Chapur, his Argentinian mistress who played a role in his public divorce and political downfall. The former governor, who once was mentioned as a possible GOP vice presidential pick, saw his political career end — or at least stall out — after his staff claimed he was hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was really visiting Chapur. Then came his divorce from his wife, Jenny, and the state’s largest-ever ethics fine.
He has kept a low profile since leaving the governor’s office in January 2011, at least until this week.
On Wednesday, Sanford was on TV and walking around the convention floor with a smile on his face. “It was a very different experience from the last 1½-year period of my life where I’ve been sequestered on a farm south of Charleston,” Sanford said. “I felt a mixture of nostalgia and joy. You forget how many people you have gotten to know over 20 years of politics, whether at the national level or the gubernatorial level.”
Sanford’s appearance and warm reception raised speculation that he might reenter the political fray one day. Asked about that, he said, “People come to read anything into 15 different tea leaves, I’ve come to learn.”
State Sen. Tom Davis, a Republican delegate from Beaufort and Sanford’s former chief of staff, said he talked with his former boss a week ago but was surprised to see him here.
Davis would be less surprised to see him at future political events. “I think he’s trying to figure out how to become engaged, how to help this movement move forward,” Davis said.
Since the affair ended his marriage and derailed his political career, Sanford has gone to lengths to apologize and reach out to his supporters. Davis said Sanford admitted his mistakes, sought forgiveness and South Carolinians are likely to offer it.
“I think with Mark Sanford what they see is somebody who recognizes the pain that he caused to his ex-wife and to his children. ... To his credit, to the best way he could, (he) made amends, tried to get his life in a positive direction and tried to make a contribution again,” Davis said. “I’m very proud of him for doing that.”
“The beauty of friendships is they outlast the different bumps and scrapes of life,” Sanford said. “It’s been a real treat to catch up with lots of friends.”
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.