Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina disclosed that he had casual encounters with other women before starting a relationship last year with an Argentinian woman, Maria Belen Chapur, whose affair with him become public last week.
But Sanford, in an interview with the AP Tuesday, said that he only had "some physical contact" with the other women, and had sex only with Maria Belen Chapur.
“This was a whole lot more than a simple affair, this was a love story,” Sanford said. “A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day.”
He did not offer details about his relationships with other women.
In the interview, the disgraced governor admitted he and Chapur first met in 2001 and that he had traveled to New York twice last year for romantic getaways.
He said that after his wife, Jenny Sanford, discovered the affair, he made another trip to New York earlier this year, with her permission, to end the relationship. Sanford said he was accompanied on that trip by a spiritual adviser.
But last month he flew to Argentina to see Maria Belen Chapur again, a trip that led to the public revelations of the affair and one teary news conference.
The series of disclosures - including the fact that Jenny Sanford forbade him from going on the recent rip - have him holding onto his office by a thread.
“The governor, you know, should know better,” said Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican Party, to Fox News. “That’s not what leadership is about.”
Steele stopped short of calling for Mr. Sanford’s resignation.
The affair is perhaps most notable for the series of Mark Sanford emails written to Chapur that were obtained by The State newspaper in South Carolina.
These reveal beyond any doubt that this was more than a one-time flig - and that for a political hardass, Mark Sanford can be one cheesy S.O.B.!