Jenny Sanford sees 'hurdles' for marriage

gnsmith@thestate.comDecember 10, 2009 

First lady Jenny Sanford said it hurt when her husband, Gov. Mark Sanford, called his Argentine lover his "soul mate" during a news interview and that she is unsure whether her marriage will survive.

Jenny Sanford opened up to Barbara Walters during an ABC special on the year's 10 most fascinating people. The show aired Wednesday.

Walters asked Jenny Sanford whether she believed she was her husband's soul mate.

"Well, clearly not," Jenny Sanford calmly said.

Will their 20-year marriage survive?

"I think the hurdles are significant," the first lady said in a portion of the interview that was not shown.

Jenny Sanford, who has garnered praise for refusing to stand by her husband as other political wives have, is estranged from him.

She and the couple's four children live in a beachfront home on Sullivan's Island while Mark Sanford resides at the Governor's Mansion in Columbia.

The governor has been under fire since secretly leaving the state for five days in June to visit the other woman and misleading his staff to believe he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Jenny Sanford said that after she discovered the affair in January, she told her husband not to see the other woman.

"What people didn't know was that I had asked Mark to leave ... without permission to see his woman in Argentina or to see her anywhere, and he was to have no contact with the boys or myself for 30 days. And my hope was that he would wake up from whatever he was in the throes of and maybe see what he might lose," Jenny Sanford told Walters.

And when her husband appeared before news cameras to confess to the affair, Jenny Sanford was not there with him. She told Walters he didn't ask her to appear with him.

If he had, she would have refused, she said.

While the first lady is penning a book about the aftermath of her husband's affair, has trademarked her name and has appeared in the national magazine Vogue, she told Walters she's not interested in seeking office.

"I have no interest. I never have," said Jenny Sanford, a Georgetown alumna who ran her husband's congressional and first gubernatorial campaigns and served as one of his top advisers.

Walters asked the first lady whether she'd forgiven her husband. She said she has forgiven him, but won't forget.

The first lady is set to appear in a second, hourlong interview with Walters in April in conjunction with her book's release.

Reach Smith at (803) 771-8658.

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