Sanford Emerges

Mark Sanford is back! And the weird tale of a disappearing governor has ended. The South Carolina governor was in Buenos Aires, he said, greeted by a reporter for The State (SC newspaper) in the Atlanta airport this morning.

Hearing him talk about it, he sounds...blase. Some gems from The State's story:

Sanford said he had considered hiking on the Appalachian Trail, an activity he said he has enjoyed since he was a high school student.

"But I said 'no' I wanted to do something exotic," Sanford said "... It's a great city."

And:

"I don't know how this thing got blown out of proportion," Sanford said.

Sanford said he has taken adventure trips for years to unwind. He has visited such places as the coast of Turkey, the Greek Isles and South America. He was with friends sometimes and sometimes by himself.

"I would get out of the bubble I am in." Sanford said.

Sanford's staff had said he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Not true. He had said he might do that. Sanford told The State he didn't know why his staff would have said he was hiking there, then later added that, "in fairness" to his staff, he had told them he might go hiking there before he left.

Sanford's been talked about as a potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate. After this episode, one can't help but imagine the attack ads if he were to run..."Is a governor who disappears to South America without telling anyone really fit to lead this nation? What was Mark Sanford doing there anyway? [cue darkening black-and-white zoom-in on a map of South America and a possible veiled reference to the drug trade]." Or in a GOP debate: "Gov. Sanford, I hope you didn't get your immigration policies in South America...[chuckle]"

UPDATE: So the weird tale wasn't over, after all, and the idea of attacks based on his disappearance has taken on new weight in light of Sanford's revelation that he had an affair with a woman in Argentina, as he continued to take questions and then left the podium as reporters asked him if he would resign as governor, without answering their question.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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