Gov. Mark Sanford says an allegation against a Republican gubernatorial candidate by a Columbia blogger who once served as the governor's press secretary is an evil brand of politics as usual.
Sanford said Tuesday he doesn't believe blogger Will Folks' claim that Folks had an inappropriate physical relationship with state Rep. Nikki Haley.
"It's the silly season of politics," said Sanford, who was in North Charleston meeting with emergency officials on the first day of the hurricane season. "I think that people see that stuff for what it is, which is politics as usual and in this case a particularly evil brand of politics as usual."
Haley, vying to become South Carolina's first woman governor, has denied any inappropriate relationship with Folks and has called the allegation "quite simply South Carolina politics at its worst," and continued to do so at a debate Tuesday night in Florence.
Sanford commented before the debate between Haley and three other Republican gubernatorial candidates. South Carolina's primary is Tuesday.
"Inevitably there are all sorts of crazy allegations that surface in the last couple of weeks of politics. It's happened in my campaigns over the years," Sanford said.
"It's awful as a candidate because there is very little time to respond and there is very little way to disprove some of these crazy allegations that come the last couple of weeks," he added.
The governor would not say who he thinks is behind the allegations.
At the Francis Marion University debate carried on C-SPAN and WBTW, Haley was asked if the allegations could create problems if she were governor and trying to close economic development deals.
"Not at all because the questions raised about my personal life aren't true," Haley said.
"You know, it's funny how there were no questions brought up until two weeks prior to the election and when I suddenly became double-digit leader in the polls," she added. "I will tell you my husband and I have been proud and faithful to each other for 13 years. I think it is sad. This is South Carolina politics at its worst."
Haley said there's been a huge outpouring of support and she's run out of bumper stickers and yard signs.
The three other candidates -- U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and Attorney General Henry McMaster -- were sympathetic to some degree. For instance, Bauer said every part of his personal life has been examined. "I don't know what else is left," Bauer said, bringing laughs from the crowd.
Barrett said South Carolinians deserve better, but that character matters. "If there's ever been a time in our history, ladies and gentlemen, where we need leaders above reproach, it's today because people look. People pay attention."
Barrett last summer was one of the first high-ranking Republicans in the state to call for Sanford to resign after he disappeared for five days and returned to confess an affair with an Argentine woman he called his "soul mate." It wrecked his political career and marriage and brought investigations that resulted in the largest ethics fines in state history.
Sanford leaves office in January because state law does not allow a third term. In years past he had backed Haley's political aspirations, and his ex-wife, Jenny, campaigned with her last month.
Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, also has endorsed Haley and said she had warned the candidate that she and her family would be targeted.
Folks left the Sanford administration in 2005, about the time he received a 30-day suspended sentence for domestic violence. Police said he kicked open the door at a home he shared with a lobbyist and shoved her into a piece of furniture.