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NATIONAL BRIEFING / SOUTH CAROLINA

Times Wire Reports

Gov. Mark Sanford considered quitting, retreating from public scrutiny to rebuild his life as the scandal of his extramarital affair with an Argentine woman came out, he told the Associated Press.

Close spiritual and political associates urged him to instead fight to restore his constituents’ -- and his family’s -- trust and finish out the 18 months left in his last term.

“Resigning would be the easiest thing to do,” he said he thought.

Sanford spoke exclusively with the Associated Press outside his family’s beach house on Sullivan’s Island. He, his wife, Jenny, and sons were in separate cars, headed to his family’s farm -- where his 83-year-old mother lives -- in Beaufort, an hour south.

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Later, in Argentina, 41-year-old former television reporter Maria Belen Chapur acknowledged in a statement that she had been having a relationship with the governor.

Chapur, a divorced mother of two sons, told news network C5N of Buenos Aires that she would not talk about her private life. She said someone had accessed her Hotmail account without permission last year and leaked e-mails describing a relationship with Sanford to the South Carolina newspaper the State.


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