SC gov heads to Europe with family after affair

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, his wife and sons arrived in London on Thursday early for their European vacation, after leaving Charlotte a day earlier than he said was planned.

Sanford told reporters Wednesday in Columbia that he and his family would head to Europe on Thursday to begin a long-planned vacation as he tries to mend his relationship with his family - and residents - after his tearful, public revelation he had an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman.

But WBTV in Charlotte interviewed the governor Wednesday before the family left on a 6:15 p.m. U.S. Airways flight bound for London's Gatwick Airport. The airline Web site reports the flight arrived at 2:13 a.m. EDT Thursday.

"You do this balancing act as best you can. You try to do right by your family and carve out time for them, which is what this trip is about," Sanford told WBTV.

Sanford would not say where in Europe the family would go, but he said Wednesday the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division had his schedule and he expected to be in touch with the office at least once a day.

Sanford returned from a nearly weeklong disappearance June 24 to reveal he was in Argentina with his mistress, not hiking the Appalachian Trail as his staff had believed. He's been criticized for not being easily accessible or designating Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer to act in his absence.

Sanford said he expects this to be a trip of soul searching.

"The whole process of redemption and forgiveness, grace and closure is slow. It's a process of healing, but that's something we have to deal with as a family," he said.

The governor also said he planned to work on ideas for the legislative session that begins in January.

"How do we carve out a couple of legislative initiatives that will pass this year that will make people's lives better going forward," Sanford said.

Sanford said he will return to work Aug. 5.

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