NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. --- 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. "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 female 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 in Florence.
At the Francis Marion University debate, Haley was asked if the allegations could create problems if she were governor.
"Not at all because the questions raised about my personal life aren't true," she 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."
The three other candidates -- U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and Attorney General Henry McMaster -- were sympathetic to some degree.
Bauer said every part of his personal life has been examined.
"I don't know what else is left," he said.
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 ... pay attention."