South Carolina first family faces subdued yule

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COLUMBIA --- In holiday seasons past, South Carolina's first family seemed like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (left) and first lady Jenny Sanford (second from right) welcome guests at the Governor's Mansion in Columbia during a Christmas open house Thursday.  Associated Press
Associated Press
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (left) and first lady Jenny Sanford (second from right) welcome guests at the Governor's Mansion in Columbia during a Christmas open house Thursday.

Gov. Mark Sanford, first lady Jenny and their four sons flipped the switch to light the towering Statehouse Christmas tree. They posed for a bucolic holiday card describing folksy family events such as the youngest giving a turtle a new home in a fountain at the governor's mansion.

But things have changed after the governor's June admission that he took a secret trip to Argentina to visit his mistress, whom he calls his soul mate.

The couple no longer share a home, but on Thursday Jenny Sanford still fulfilled her traditional role as first lady, welcoming the public to see the holiday decorations at the governor's mansion.

That's where her husband lives, but she and the boys stay at the family's beachfront home on Sullivans Island, 120 miles away.

Jenny Sanford and two of the boys skipped the traditional state Christmas tree lighting last weekend, while Mark Sanford sat between his two youngest sons. Even the tree is a little less festive this year -- because of the recession, the garden club that puts it up had to buy a shorter one than usual.

Mr. Sanford did attend the open house, arriving about two hours after it began -- and after the crowd had mostly thinned out. After the governor gave his wife a quick kiss, the two spent much of the night about 10 feet apart, entertaining separate groups of visitors.

The family does plan to send a Christmas card this year, although it is not in the mail yet, said Meg Milne, a spokeswoman for the first lady.

She refused to say whether it would include the traditional family portrait and said people would have to wait to see it.

In a statement released by Ms. Milne on Thursday, Jenny Sanford said she would be in Florida, where her parents live, for the holidays. It was not immediately clear if her husband will be with her, though he joined her there on the Fourth of July.

"I'm looking forward to spending the holidays with my boys and family and friends in Florida," Jenny Sanford said. Later, at the mansion, she added she was thankful for her supporters and said her plans included decorating the coastal home with some of the ornaments seen at the open house.

The governor would only say Thursday night that he plans "to have a happy holiday season."

While Mark Sanford's star has fallen -- he was once considered a 2012 presidential contender and now might not even get to finish his second and final term -- his wife's has risen.

Next week, she will be featured on a Barbara Walters special about the year's most fascinating people. She has landed a book contract and set up a Web site.

Because she has managed her husband's past campaigns, some pundits speculate that she is laying the groundwork for her own future in politics, but she told The Associated Press earlier this week that she is not interested in running for office.

"It's mere speculation," said Mrs. Sanford, a Georgetown-educated former Wall Street vice president. "Right now I'm focused on my family and the future of my children."

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TrukinRanger
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TrukinRanger 12/04/09 - 03:51 am
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I wonder if Sanford will have
Unpublished

I wonder if Sanford will have fishnet stockings hung over the fireplace & a Venezuelan in the bed...

Notreally
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Notreally 12/04/09 - 07:08 am
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I like Jenny I wish her the

I like Jenny I wish her the best, but can you see in this pic, her head looks bigger and it looks like she's lost weight. If so, it's natural as people tend to lose weight and or their bodies change under stress they didn't bring on themselves. Jenny Merry Christmas to you and your sons, may God truly keep and bless you in his will.

bettyboop
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bettyboop 12/04/09 - 09:53 am
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I think Mr. Govner should go

I think Mr. Govner should go South and spend Christmas with the woman who holds his heart.

bettyboop
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bettyboop 12/04/09 - 09:55 am
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hmmm...can't edit comments

hmmm...can't edit comments today....come on AC..it ain't rocket science.

Notreally
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Notreally 12/04/09 - 10:08 am
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Looking at this pic again, I

Looking at this pic again, I bet Jenny "Hawked" (eyed) every female he spoke to, hugged or shook hands LOL.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 12/04/09 - 10:43 am
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You are really enjoying this

You are really enjoying this aren't you Notreally (Jackfruitpaper). You are sick, enjoying someone elses pain, love to just make those comments. Dig another comment out of the hat that sounds like concern but really poking fun. How in the world can you tell that Jenny's head looks bigger...what a stupid statement. I give you that people normally loose weight during times of stress whether they bring it on themselves or not. From this picture you can't see much of her and she's bending forward and she's always been a slim individual. Just wish them well and stop with the "I bet Jenny "hawked" (eyed) every female....." Wouldn't it be more Christian like to say I hope they are able to work their marriage out and for the sake of the boys they can save their marriage.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 12/04/09 - 10:51 am
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I just find it odd that Gov.

I just find it odd that Gov. Sanford admits that he has been unfaithful and want's to work on his marriage and all you hear are stupid jokes and criticism to the point that some want to impeach him....But then you have Tiger Woods who by all standards has been promoted as this wholesome role model and extra ordinary athelete. He has admitted to "transgressions" but will be hear all the stupid off color jokes and criticism towards Tiger as we have Gov. Sanford, and for the length of time it's been for the Sanford family. Are we going to demand that Tiger's sponsors drop him, and he needs to give up golf and anything that has to do with public speaking. I for one am sick of hearing about Gov. Sanford's personal sexual transgressions and how his family is handling it. This is personal and should be between him and his family...just as Tiger and his family shouldn't have to discuss his personal transgressions.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 12/04/09 - 11:44 am
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The media will never get

The media will never get enough.. We have turned into "Get all the news however you can society"..we worship the wrong folks..I guess we can't un ring a bell..

corgimom
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corgimom 12/04/09 - 07:28 pm
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Who cares if Jenny Sanford

Who cares if Jenny Sanford has lost weight? If parents could have a crystal ball and could see what separation and divorce do to their kids, and themselves, people might think twice before they do the destructive things that they do. I don't feel sorry for either one of them, they are adults. It's the 4 innocent children in this, that I feel sorry for.

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